Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Skip to main content

Choosing Your Health Insurance: Open Enrollment vs. Medicaid Renewals

Deciding on the right health insurance can be tricky, but understanding open enrollment and Medicaid renewals can help you make smart choices about your health care. Knowing the differences between the two can help you understand how to pick the right health care for you.

Open enrollment is a particular time each year (from November 1st to January 15th) when you can choose or change your health insurance plan to fit your needs. It’s for people looking for Marketplace coverage. During open enrollment, you get to think about your health and pick the right plan for you and your family.

Medicaid renewals are a bit different. They happen every year for people already in programs like Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). In Colorado, you may get a renewal packet that you must fill out every year to check if you still qualify for health programs like Medicaid. In Colorado, Medicaid is called Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program).

Here are some definitions that may help you understand even more:

Open enrollment A special time when people can sign up or make changes to their health insurance plans. It’s like a window of opportunity for getting or adjusting insurance.
Timing When something happens. In the context of open enrollment, it’s about the specific period when you can enroll in or modify your insurance.
Availability If something is ready and accessible. In open enrollment, it’s about whether you can get or change your insurance during that time.
Coverage options The different types of insurance plans you can choose from during open enrollment. Each option provides different kinds of health coverage.
Limited period A specific amount of time for something to happen. In open enrollment, it’s the timeframe when you can sign up or change your insurance.
Renewal process The steps you need to take to continue or update your Medicaid or CHP+ coverage.
Eligibility verification Checking to make sure you still qualify for Medicaid.
Automatic renewal Your Medicaid or CHP+ coverage is extended without you having to do anything, as long as you still qualify.
Continuity of coverage Keeping your health insurance without any breaks.

Colorado recently started sending out annual renewal packets again after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) ended on May 11, 2023. If you need to renew, you’ll get a notice in the mail or in the PEAK app. It’s important to keep your contact information updated so you don’t miss these important messages. Unlike open enrollment, Medicaid renewals happen over 14 months, and different people renew at different times. Whether your health coverage gets renewed automatically or you need to do it yourself, it’s super important to respond to the notices to keep getting the help you need for your health.

  Open Enrollment Medicaid Renewals
Timing November 1 – January 15 annually Annually, over 14 months
Purpose Enroll or adjust health insurance plans Confirm eligibility for Medicaid or CHP+
Who it’s for Individuals looking for Marketplace plans Individuals enrolled in Medicaid or CHP+
Life events Special enrollment period for major life events Eligibility review after the COVID-19 PHE and annually
Notification Renewal notices sent during the period Renewal notices are sent in advance; members may need to respond
Auto-renewal Some members may be automatically renewed Some members may be automatically renewed based on existing information
Renewal process Select or adjust plans within the timeframe Respond to renewal packets by due date
Flexibility Limited timeframe for decision-making Staggered renewal process over 14 months
Coverage continuity Ensures continued access to Marketplace plans Ensures continued eligibility for Medicaid or CHP+
How you are notified Usually through mail and online Mail, online, email, text, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls, live phone calls, and app notifications

So, open enrollment is about picking plans, while Medicaid renewals are about making sure you can keep getting assistance. They work a bit differently! Open enrollment and Medicaid renewals are there to ensure you can get the health care you need. Open enrollment gives you a special time to choose the right plan, while Medicaid renewals make sure you still qualify for help every year. Remember to keep your information updated, pay attention to the messages you get, and participate in either open enrollment or Medicaid renewals to keep your health coverage on track.

More Resources