If you’re cold calling companies or buying qualified leads to broker health insurance, you need to stay up-to-date with health insurance enrollment dates. When someone comes to you in need of coverage, they’re going to expect you to be an expert.

“What’s the health insurance deadline?” Do you know how to answer that question?

Health insurance enrollment dates to inform your insurance contacts about

General Health Insurance

  • November 1 to January 31 with possible future changes

Currently, November 1 is the first date your clients can elect to keep, change, or enroll in health insurance plans for the upcoming calendar year. January 31 is the final date to enroll in a new plan or make changes to coverage for that calendar year. If your leads do not enroll by the 31st, they may be required to pay a penalty to the government.

Here’s how it worked for the 2016 health insurance deadline:

November 1, 2015 was the starting day marketplaces allowed people to enroll, change, or keep their health insurance for the 2016 plan year. Let’s say your insurance lead wanted to make changes to his plan on November 20, 2015. Great! He could do so, and you could help. However, don’t forget to remind him that those changes won’t take effect until January 1, 2016.

Let’s flashback to January 11, 2016. Another one of your new insurance leads contacts you to enroll in health insurance. She qualifies for a plan and completes all information necessary. However, anyone who didn’t enroll before December 15, won’t have coverage until February 1, 2016. She’ll still be covered for the majority of 2016, but her policy won’t cover her automatically on the day she enrolls.

Something important to keep in mind for the future: while not yet confirmed, health insurance enrollment dates may change in upcoming years. The goal is to have one set enrollment period annually (most likely October 1 to December 15 with a mandatory start date of January 1), though that has not been confirmed for future years yet.

Medicare Insurance Options

Medicare Parts A, B, C, D, and Medigap have different enrollment dates. If you connected with a lead who had questions about when he’d be eligible to enroll in one of the Medicare plans, would you immediately know how to advise him

Ensuring new customers enroll in plans A & B will make or break whether they have the opportunity to sign up for plans C & D.

Medicare Parts A & B

  • Initial enrollment: seven months surrounding 65th birthday
  • Open enrollment: January 1 to March 31 annually.

Your clients are able to enroll in Medicare Part A & B in the seven months surrounding their 65th birthday (their birth month and the three months before and after). This is considered the Initial Enrollment Period. Anyone who chooses not to sign up during this period may pay more for Part B when they enroll at a different time.

If someone contacts you for help enrolling at a later date, the open enrollment period for Medicare Parts A & B is January 1 to March 31 annually.

Here’s an important fact: while your leads can enroll in the first quarter of the year, the coverage will not begin until July 1.

Medicare Parts C & D

  • Initial enrollment: seven months surrounding 65th birthday
  • Open enrollment: October 15 to December 7 annually.
  • Disenrollment period: January 1 to February 14 annually.

Similar to Parts A & B, the Initial Enrollment Period for Parts C & D is the seven months surrounding a person’s 65th birthday. However, the general open enrollment period is October 15 until December 7.

Medicare Parts C & D also offer a disenrollment period that takes place between January 1 and February 14, if any of your leads wants to cancel their policy.

Special enrollment periods

While consumers pay the most attention to special enrollment periods, it’s something agents also need to be aware of. Why? Your new health leads and customers are going to have a lot of questions about what life events qualify for special enrollment, and what timeline they should expect. Consumers that are better prepared to make more informed decisions will remember the agent that helped the cut through the noise and reach important deadlines.

First, find out if your lead qualifies with a life event. If she was recently married, divorced, gave birth or adopted, or lost coverage elsewhere, she will qualify for a special health insurance enrollment dates.

Special enrollment periods don’t follow the traditional health insurance enrollment dates. First, if your customers lose insurance from a job-based plan, they only have 30 days to enroll in a new plan. The only exception to that rule is if they lost their job. They then have a 60-day special enrollment period.

The regular (non-employer plans) special enrollment health insurance deadline is 60 days from the date of the life event. So, if your lead got married on March 10, the last possible date she can enroll in insurance is May 9.

With all the changes in medical coverage, it’s important to keep up with health insurance enrollment dates and inform your client base when these important date are approaching and how to prepare.