Open Enrollment is the yearly period (usually in the fall) when you can enroll in a health insurance plan. Typically, if you don’t enroll in a health plan—either through your employer or through the ACA Marketplace—you can’t enroll in a health plan until the next time Open Enrollment comes around.
However, some notable exceptions exist. Read on to find out if these apply to you.
You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period
If you have had certain life events, like losing health coverage due to job loss or other reason, relocating, getting married, having a baby or adopting a child, you can apply for health insurance outside of Open Enrollment.
In these cases, you have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in or change a plan.
Additionally, some employers offer a benefits enrollment period that is different than the regular Open Enrollment period. Check with your company’s human resources department to see if your employer is one of these.
You or a family member may be eligible for insurance through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
These programs provide free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans, including some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
A number of states have expanded Medicaid coverage, making more Americans than ever before eligible for these programs.
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid based on your income, you might qualify due to pregnancy, if you have children or if you have a disability. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate to check on your eligibility so you can be sure.
If you’re eligible, you can get coverage immediately, no matter what time of year it is. Medicaid and CHIP don’t have Open Enrollment Periods.
Learn more about Medicaid and CHIP here.