Division of Insurance Reminds Individuals the New Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period Starts July 1
BOSTON - June 28, 2011 - The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Insurance is reminding individuals who purchase their own health care that the annual open enrollment period starts July 1, and going forward individuals will be able to change their insurance policies only on an annual basis.
The open enrollment periods are part of the effort to reduce health-care costs for small businesses and working families, and are part of legislation passed in 2010. In the past individuals could purchase insurance at any time of the year, and in some cases were purchasing expensive policies for a short period of time, using a large amount of costly services, and then moving back into a lower-cost plan.
The open enrollment period, which runs from July 1-Aug. 15, gives consumers the opportunity to review their health insurance plans and consider changes that may be appropriate. Once in a plan, consumers will have to stay in those plans until the next open enrollment period, which starts July 1, 2012.
"Any insurance policy should be reviewed each year as a way for the policyholder to make sure the desired benefits are being received at the best cost, and the open enrollment period is a good reminder for individuals to review and update their health insurance," said Joseph G. Murphy, the Commissioner of Insurance. "This new system is reflective of the system used by many private businesses, which review and update employee insurance on an annual basis."
Under the new law, there were two open enrollment periods in 2011, one that ran from Jan. 1-Feb. 15, and the new period starting on July 1. Starting in 2012, however, there will be one annual open period, from July 1-Aug. 15.
Individuals who are without coverage because of lost employment-sponsored coverage or government-sponsored coverage, or are self-employed, or for other limited circumstances can purchase insurance at any time. However, after purchasing coverage, changes can be made only during open enrollment periods.
The Division of Insurance is available to help individuals with questions about the new enrollment rules or any other health insurance issue. Consumers can call (617) 521-7794, or visit www.mass.gov/doi.
For more information on the Division of Insurance and health insurance costs, visit www.mass.gov/doi. The website includes stories from small-business owners struggling with insurance costs, and source information including testimony from Division's hearings across the state. The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Follow the Office at www.mass.gov/consumer, its Consumer Connections Blog and at its Twitter feed, @Mass_Consumer.