Special enrollment

In general, when open enrollment ends, you can't apply for health insurance until the next year. However, special enrollment lets you apply for health insurance during other times of the year if you have specific major life changes.

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When don’t I qualify for special enrollment?

If you choose to end your own insurance coverage, you won't qualify for special enrollment. You'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to get new Individual insurance. Also, you may not qualify for special enrollment if your prior insurance did not meet the minimum essential coverage standards.

Is there a deadline for special enrollment?

You’re eligible for special enrollment only after a major life-change event occurs. You must usually apply for a new Individual and Family health plan within 30 or 60 days before or after that event happens, depending on your plan. (Note: If you have health insurance through your employer, check with your employer about special enrollment periods.) If you want your coverage to start on the first day of the next month, your application must be received online or by US postal mail by the 15th of the month. For example, if your application is received by February 15, coverage starts March 1. If your application is received on February 21, coverage starts April 1.

What’s the difference between open enrollment and special enrollment?

Open enrollment is the period of time, starting November 1 each year, when you can buy new health insurance or change your current insurance. During open enrollment, you can apply for insurance and, because of the Affordable Care Act, in most cases insurance companies must accept your application. During times outside the yearly open enrollment dates, you can apply for insurance or make changes to your existing insurance only if you have a major life change, such as the loss of a job or the birth of a child (other changes may also qualify). This is called special enrollment. You have 30 or 60 days from the life change event to apply, depending on your plan. To apply, you must shop for a plan, choose one and fill out an application form. Once you choose a plan, you’ll be guided through the application process.