What Is a Special Enrollment Period?

By May 31, 2018February 18th, 2021Enrollment Health Insurance
If you lose coverage through a job, have a kid, get married, or move, you don’t have to wait for the open enrollment period to shop for a new health plan.

Try as you may to plan ahead, you can’t always see the future. But if you lose the health care coverage you have through a job, have a kid, get married, or move, you don’t have to wait for the open enrollment period to shop for a new health plan. Read on to learn more about applying for health insurance during the special enrollment period.

Top Questions for the Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

  1. What if I need to apply for health insurance outside of open enrollment?
  2. What is a qualifying life event?
  3. When can I enroll for health coverage if I experience a qualifying life event?
  4. Is getting engaged or moving in with my partner a qualifying life event?
  5. I know that having a baby is a qualifying life event, but what about adopting or fostering a child?
  6. Does it matter if I quit my job or if I am let go?
  7. If I get COBRA after I lose coverage through a job, can I still qualify for a special enrollment period?
  8. Can I still enroll for health insurance during an SEP if I cancel my health insurance plan, or if my plan is canceled?
  9. How do I apply for health insurance during a special enrollment period?
  10. What if I miss open enrollment and don’t have a qualifying life event?

1. What if I need to apply for health insurance outside of open enrollment?

You may be able to apply for health insurance during a special enrollment period (SEP). This is a period of time outside of the open enrollment period in which you may be eligible to apply for an individual or family health plan. If you experience a qualifying life event, such as getting married, having or adopting a baby, losing your coverage, or moving into a new service area, you may qualify for SEP. See if you qualify to enroll outside of Open Enrollment Period.

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2. What is a qualifying life event?

A qualifying life event is a change in circumstance that may allow you to enroll in coverage outside of the annual open enrollment period. Qualifying life events include:

  • Having a baby
  • Getting married
  • Adopting or fostering a child
  • Loss of coverage because of the following events:
    • Losing coverage through your job
    • Getting separated or divorced from your spouse
    • Death of policy holder
    • COBRA expiration
    • Losing eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP
  • Moving to a new area
    • You change your permanent residence to the Independence Blue Cross five-county service area: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties.
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen

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3. When can I enroll for health coverage if I experience a qualifying life event?

The special enrollment period is determined by the type of qualifying life event. In most cases, you will have 60 days after the life event to enroll in or make changes to a health plan.

Certain life events, like moving into the Independence Blue Cross coverage area (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties), allow you to apply for a health plan up to 60 days before the event. If you are losing coverage provided by an employer, you will have up to 60 days before and after the event to enroll in a health plan.

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4. Is getting engaged or moving in with my partner a qualifying life event?

No. Only getting married will qualify you and your partner for a special enrollment period.

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5. I know that having a baby is a qualifying life event, but what about adopting or fostering a child?

Absolutely! Adopting or fostering a child is a qualifying life event and qualifies you for a special enrollment period.

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6. Does it matter if I quit my job or if I am let go?

No. If you were previously covered through your job and you lose that coverage, you may qualify for a special enrollment period to purchase health insurance.

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7. If I get COBRA after I lose coverage through a job, can I still qualify for a special enrollment period?

Yes, you can qualify for special enrollment period if you cancel your COBRA benefits or if they are set to expire.

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8. Can I still enroll for health insurance during an SEP if I cancel my health insurance plan, or if my plan is canceled?

Sorry. Loss of coverage due to voluntarily canceling your health insurance plan, having your plan canceled because you did not pay your premium, or losing your coverage because you didn’t provide required documentation when the Marketplace asked for more information.

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9. How do I apply for health insurance during a special enrollment period?

It’s easy:

  1. Compare our affordable health plans.
  2. See if you may qualify for financial assistance.
  3. Apply online.

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10. What if I miss open enrollment and don’t have a qualifying life event?

You will have to wait for the next open enrollment period to apply for a health insurance plan.

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Have a question we don’t answer here? Learn more about special enrollment and qualifying life events.

Looking to enroll in a health plan with Independence Blue Cross? Get a Quote!

 

Rebecca Finkel

About Rebecca Finkel

I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, paleo, gluten free, dairy-free, low-carb, and kosher, yet I fall again and again to the lure of the Reuben. As I get older, I’m learning to take a more omnivorous approach to health, but I still love writing about new trends in diet, fitness, and wellbeing.