Massachusetts is reminding residents the new enrollment period for individual health care plans becomes effective after Nov. 30.

As part of an effort to cut health care costs for small businesses and families, the state enacted individual health care insurance this year.

Previously, eligible individuals in the state could buy individual health policies at any time. According to the state’s Division of Insurance, that created a problem when it turned out some would buy insurance only when they needed medical services and then would drop coverage after the insurance paid for the treatment. This caused health insurance rates to increase.

Under the new law, eligible individuals will be able to buy coverage during the following open-enrollment periods: for 2011, Jan. 1-Feb. 15 and July 1-Aug. 15; and for 2012 and thereafter, July 1-Aug. 15.

Certain individuals, such as the self-employed or those who recently lost employment-sponsored or government-sponsored coverage, can continue to purchase coverage outside of the open enrollment periods.

Once a valid application is submitted, carriers are required to make coverage effective within 30 days of receipt, the division notes.

-Trevor Thomas