Prepare for open enrollment with these key dates and important considerations.
It seems like open enrollment just ended, didn’t it? Time is certainly flying as the world begins to open up again, but now that we’re halfway through 2021, it’s time to start prepping for one of the most major HR events of the year: open enrollment.
First time managing HR duties or wrestling with the whole automated enrollment thing and trying to figure out where to start? No matter where you are in your process, here are the key dates you need to know for open enrollment 2022 to make sure you stay on schedule and, above all, compliant with health insurance regulations as we slide into the second half of the year.
What is open enrollment?
Open enrollment is the one time of the year (save for major life events like getting married, having kids, or starting or ending a job) that people can enroll in, switch, or change their current health insurance plan. People can enroll themselves as individuals or their family if they’re the policy holder responsible for the insurance of their:
- Partner, or
What is the open enrollment period for 2022?
Private companies can set their own open enrollment periods with many choosing to do so in the fall of each year. There’s also a nation-wide public open enrollment period each year. For 2021, it begins on November 1 and ends on December 15.
What states have different open enrollment deadlines?
Many states have opted for extended open enrollment periods to make the sometimes complicated and stressful process a little less rushed.
Just because there is a national open enrollment that stretches from the beginning of November to the middle of December doesn’t mean that’s the only option. Many states have opted for extended open enrollment periods to make the sometimes complicated and stressful process a little less rushed.
States with different open enrollment periods or deadlines for 2021 include:
- California: October 15, 2021 through January 31, 2022*
- Colorado: November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022*
- Connecticut: November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022
- Idaho: November 1, 2021 through December 31, 2020
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2021 through January 23, 2022*
- Minnesota: November 1, 2021 through December 22, 2021
- Nevada: November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022
- New Jersey: November 1, 2021 through January 31, 2022
- New York: November 1, 2021 through January 31, 2022
- Pennsylvania: November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022
- Rhode Island: October 15, 2021 through December 31, 2022
- Washington DC: November 1, 2021 through January 31, 2022*
* signifies a permanent extension that applies every year
When does the health plan go into effect?
Open enrollment is just the time period within which people can make changes to their health insurance plans. The changes they make — if any — don’t go into effect until the following year, which is 2022 in this instance.
Any changes or new selections made during open enrollment 2022 will take effect on January 1, 2022, which is the earliest that new healthcare coverage can begin. If your state offers open enrollment extensions beyond December 15 (aka any of the states in the list above), your new health insurance or any changes you make might start later than January 1.
What if an employee misses the open enrollment period?
Your best bet is to try to ensure that none of your employees miss the open enrollment period. However, we all know how people are and despite even the best HR efforts, chances are there will almost always be at least a person or two (if not more) who miss the open enrollment deadline but still want to make changes to their health insurance from the previous year.
Usually there isn’t much that can be done if someone simply doesn’t complete their paperwork in time, but in some circumstances some people may still be allowed to enroll in or make changes to their health insurance plan outside of open enrollment.
In some circumstances some people may still be allowed to enroll in or make changes to their health insurance plan outside of open enrollment.
You may be able to work with your insurance provider or broker to help employees who miss the deadline through no fault of their own (for example, remote employees whose paperwork got lost in the mail). Otherwise, there will have to be a “qualifying life event” in order to trigger special enrollment outside of open enrollment.
United States law defines qualifying life events as:
- The birth, adoption, or fostering of a child in the home (in this instance the employee has to choose family coverage in order to qualify)
- A change or loss of benefits or coverage through a spouse
- The death of a spouse or a dependent
- Marriage, divorce, or legal separation
- Gaining or lose a dependent through child support or another court order