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Feb. 11, 2021

What You Need to Know About the Special Enrollment Period for Health Coverage

If you need health coverage or want to change your Marketplace plan for 2021, you can do it between February 15 and May 15. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that will allow families and individuals to enroll in health care coverage or change their Marketplace plans in most states. The new special enrollment period (SEP) means no qualifying life event is necessary for people to enroll in new plans or change plans. The SEP runs from Feb. 15 – May 15 in most states.  

Nine out of ten people who enroll in Marketplace plans are eligible for assistance with health care costs. Applying for Marketplace coverage lets you check eligibility for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in addition to financial help with a Marketplace plan. 

  • How do I enroll? Starting February 15, use the HealthCare.gov platform or your state Marketplace website to enroll in 2021 health insurance coverage.  Healthcare.gov can help you find your state Marketplace if that’s where you should enroll.  

  • Am I eligible? This SEP is available to people who lawfully reside in the United States, and purchase coverage through the Federal Marketplace or a State-Based Marketplace that has chosen to also create an SEP.  (As of this date, only Idaho and Vermont have not yet announced that they will offer the SEP.)  Financial help with coverage costs is based on income, family situation, and any other offers of coverage.   

  • What if my state doesn't use Healthcare.gov? State-based Marketplaces (SBMs) operating their own platforms have taken similar action, with the two exceptions mentioned above.  Some have different beginning or ending dates for the SEP.  

  • How long do I have to enroll? In most states, the SEP runs for three months from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021.  

If you have additional questions about the SEP, visit HealthCare.gov.