I think most would agree, it has been a relief to no longer have pre-existing conditions as a caveat to obtaining health insurance. In a recent conversation, it became clear to me that there is confusion on why an annual health insurance enrollment period is necessary for this piece-of-mind.
We all know that to keep premiums low, healthy people must participate in health insurance. We must also recognize that it is human nature to wait to the last minute. If given the opportunity, many would wait to purchase health insurance “tomorrow”.
Furthermore, for those who perceive themselves as healthy or are struggling to make ends meet, if given the opportunity to wait and purchase health insurance, they probably would wait too.
This would then cause an influx of sick people to the system who wait to purchase coverage until they to find out they have a problem, such as cancer, or a blessing, such as pregnancy. This situation would be like asking a homeowners insurance policy to offer coverage to people when their house is on fire.
Therefore, an annual health insurance enrollment period is necessary to keep premiums down and guarantee that coverage includes preexisting conditions.
It should be noted that an annual health insurance enrollment still encourages choice as we have seen in the Medicare market, where annually, Medicare recipients choose from a wide variety of plans.
An annual enrollment is also common in employer-sponsored coverage.
Currently, the next health insurance enrollment is: November 1 - December 15, 2018. During this time, folks in the open market and Marketplace (healthcare.gov) can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2019 insurance plan.