For Consumers

When can I buy an individual health plan?

Important information Important: Changes to the annual open enrollment period for 2018

This year, depending on where you buy your individual health plan, there are two different enrollment periods:

If you buy through the Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder
The federal government shortened the 2018 open enrollment period for Exchanges by several weeks. Open enrollment is Nov. 1, 2017 - Jan. 15, 2018. If you want coverage to start Jan. 1, 2018, you must enroll by Dec. 15. If you wait to enroll until Jan. 15, your coverage might not start until Feb. 1. Remember, premium and cost-sharing subsidies are only available through the Exchange. You can buy a plan through the Exchange even if you don’t qualify for premium and cost-sharing subsidies.

If you buy directly from an insurance company (outside of Washington Healthplanfinder)
Open enrollment is just from Nov. 1 - Dec. 15, 2017 for coverage to start Jan. 1, 2018. So don’t delay enrolling!

Unless you qualify for Apple Health (www.hca.wa.gov) or a special enrollment period due to one of the qualifying events listed below, the 2017 open enrollment period is closed.

General special enrollment

If you have a qualifying event, you may get a special enrollment period (SEP) to buy an individual health plan. This means you can enroll in or change your health insurance plan outside the standard open enrollment period. Most special enrollment periods last 60 days from the date of the qualifying event (see below). If you don't qualify for a SEP, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment period.

Note: You don't qualify for a SEP if you voluntarily cancel your health insurance or your insurer cancels you because you don't pay your premium.

Individual health plans

Qualifying events for SEPs include, but aren't limited to:

  • Losing health coverage, including an employer plan or an individual policy
  • Losing Apple Health (Medicaid) because you no longer qualify
  • Giving birth to or adopting a child
  • Permanently moving to a new area where your current plan doesn't provide coverage
  • Employer not paying your COBRA premium on time
  • COBRA coverage period ending (usually 18 months) or reaching the lifetime limit
  • Your dependent turning age 26 and losing his or her coverage on your employer’s plan
  • Getting married or entering into a domestic partnership
  • Getting divorced or ending a domestic partnership
  • Canceling your Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP) coverage
  • Your health plan no longer being offered for sale in Washington state

Individual health plans only inside the Exchange

See if you qualify for SEP for a health plan through the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org).

Note: The Exchange and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have the authority to create additional qualifying events for special enrollment periods. Contact the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) for more information.

Where to buy a plan

If you buy a plan: