What does Open Enrollment mean?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Open enrollment is a certain time each year (typically around the time when holiday decorations are unpacked and put up, and radio stations start playing holiday music) when you can make changes to your health insurance coverage (switch plans, add coverage, get rid of unnecessary coverage, etc.).

It’s a good idea to prepare for open enrollment by reviewing your Summary Plan Description (SPD).  That is a major commitment (not only because the SPD is really long and complicated, but also because it’s extremely boring), so start early and invest in a quality set of magnifying glasses so that you can read all the fine print.

You want to have all the ins and outs of your policy down pat -- the pros and cons, benefits and limitations -- so you have a better idea of the changes in coverage you need to make. If you need help, contact your benefits office if you receive health insurance from your employer, or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free advice and counseling.

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As out of your control as health insurance may seem at times, there are things you can do to make your whole experience better and easier -- whether you're looking to fight back when a claim's denied, dealing with the loss of a jo...

b or wondering how healthcare reform will affect you. Take control by reading the fine print and don't be shy about making changes to your health plan.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.