Open Enrollment Period vs. Waiting Period vs. Grace Period – Nevada Health Link

You have probably noticed several confusing terms while reviewing the enrollment process, and I would like to clear up some of the confusion by explaining Open Enrollment Period vs. Waiting Period vs. Grace Period.

Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment Period is the time generally between November 15th and February 15th every year. During this time, individuals who would like to enroll in health insurance through Nevada Health Link can do so. For Nevadans, Open Enrollment means you do not have to wait 90 days for coverage to begin.

Enrollment DateEffective Date
 November 15th, 2014 to December 15th, 2014 January 1st, 2015
 December 15th, 2014 to January 15th, 2015 February 1st, 2015
 January 15th, 2015 to February 15th, 2015 March 1st, 2015

The Waiting Period is the length of time between when the application is turned in and when the plan becomes effective. During Open Enrollment (see above), means you have a reduced waiting period of between 15 and 45 days. That’s what makes open enrollment different. During the normal year for Nevadans, the waiting period for a new plan is “first of the month following 90 days”.

Waiting Period

Enrollment DateEffective Date
February 20th, 2015June 1st, 2015
May, 31st, 2015September 1st, 2015
Anytime after September 1st, 2014January 1st, 2015

IMPORTANT NOTE: This waiting period can be reduced if you have had certain “Life Events.” These are also called Qualifying Events and include (but are not limited to):

  • Birth, adoption or placement for adoption
  • Marriage / Divorce
  • Involuntary loss of other minimum essential health coverage (loss of job, etc. Not for reasons of non-payment)
  • Gaining lawfully present status

All health insurance coverage is month-to-month and billed in advance. For plans through Nevada Health Link, you pay for plans by the 15th of the month prior, for the future month. (pay by the 15th of March to cover the month of April). And for plans outside of Nevada Health Link, your premium is usually due to the insurance company the day before the month of coverage. For example you would pay May 31st for coverage June 1st. If you don’t pay, the insurance companies do NOT report to credit agencies. Instead they simply just don’t cover you.

Grace Period

This brings us to our final term, the Grace Period. The Grace Period is the amount of time the insurance companies give you before they just flat-out cancel your policy. Non-Nevada Health Link plans have a 31 day grace period. This means you can pay at the end of the month for coverage during that month. If you decide to pay late, you have just used up all of your grace period by the time you cut the check. Most people pay this way although they usually have no idea this is the way it’s set up. For Nevada Health Link plans, you have a 3 month grace period.

Nevada Health Link has had a very difficult time keeping track of individuals payments. I would highly recommend NOT waiting 3 months to pay them. Payments are easiest to keep track of if they are made on a monthly basis.

If you have any questions about Open Enrollment Period vs. Waiting Period vs. Grace Period please contact one of our staff members.