Insurance provided by companies on a pre-tax basis must follow IRS regulations. Insurance is part of a "cafeteria plan" and they must limit your ability to change the items in the plan except during an annual open season, or after an IRS defined life event.
The Affordable Care Act also has the concept of open season, to minimize the ability to wait until a person is sick before enrolling for coverage. There will be a annual open season, and there will be an ability to make changes after a life event.
Even without the IRS regulations and the Affordable Care Act law insurance companies would want to minimize your ability to switch coverage levels. If you could add orthodontics coverage after your dentist tells you your child needs braces; and then drop it after they are put on; they would never be able to collect enough money to fairly price it. Therefore they limit your ability to make changes to open season/life events.