health insurance Open Enrollment: Deadline for Coverage That Starts Jan. 1

Americans looking to enroll, change or update their marketplace health insurance for 2022 have until Dec. 15 for coverage that starts on Jan. 1

The website is displayed on a laptop computer in Washington, D.C., Nov. 4, 2013.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images (File)

Consumers seeking government-subsidized health insurance for next year have through Wednesday to sign up if they want their new plan to start Jan. 1. and its state-run counterparts are insurance marketplaces that offer taxpayer-subsidized private coverage.

Independent experts say's sign-up season doesn't seem to be drawing as many new customers this year — 8% to 9% fewer than last year — but it's too early to draw final conclusions because deadlines drive much of the enrollment.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is different this time because it’s an early test of President Joe Biden’s idea that the U.S. can get close to coverage for all by building on existing programs.

When is the open enrollment period for 2022?

Wednesday is the first of two deadlines for coverage, with increased financial assistance available through Biden's coronavirus relief legislation. Americans looking to enroll, change or update their marketplace health insurance for 2022 have until Dec. 15 for coverage that starts on Jan. 1.

However, the last chance to enroll in the exchange for 2022 will be Jan. 15 for coverage that takes effect Feb. 1.

Some states that don't use the federal marketplace and instead have state-run programs, have extended their open enrollment periods. Currently, 33 states are served by the federal website. The remaining states and Washington, D.C., run their own enrollment campaigns and some of those states have extended their open enrollment periods, so check the deadline for your state.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends that deadline day procrastinators enroll by midnight local time in their community.

What if I'm already enrolled in

If you are already enrolled and satisfied with your current plan you don't have to do anything. Your current plan will be automatically renew for 2022 and you'll receive a notice from saying which plan you've been enrolled in.

However, if you receive a premium tax credit, you should update your income and family information to see how much subsidy you may be eligible for based on the new premiums for the coming year. Even if circumstances have not changed, new insurers might have joined the marketplace or expanded their service areas for 2022, and this could affect the amount of tax credit available for next year's plan.

About 91% of U.S. residents currently have health insurance through a mix of employer, public and individual plans, but 28 million people remain uninsured even in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most would be eligible for taxpayer-subsidized coverage, and surveys show many are just not aware of that.

To preview 2022 plans and prices on the federal marketplace, click here.

If I miss the open enrollment deadline, can I still get healthcare coverage?

If you missed the enrollment deadline, it is still possible to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that will allow you to apply for health insurance if you have experienced a qualifying life event. Qualifying life events can include:

  • The loss of health insurance through a job.
  • Household changes such as marriage, divorce, a death in the family, or having a baby.
  • A move to a new home in a new zip, county or state.
The Associated Press/NBC
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