Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

What Is a Special Enrollment Period?

Special Enrollment Periods allow you to add, drop, or enroll in health insurance plans outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period when you’ve had a qualifying life event.  Your Special Enrollment Period typically lasts up to 60 days, and if you don’t enroll in a plan within your 60 day Special Enrollment Period, you will have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period

Who Is Eligible for a Special Enrollment Period?

There are a number of reasons that someone may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, and they are considered to be significant life changes known as qualifying life events. Some of the most common examples of qualifying life events include changing your household size, moving to another residence or no longer being eligible for government-provided healthcare programs, such as Medicaid or CHIP. 

Changes in household size can be related to births, deaths or marriages. Changes in residence that may allow you to be eligible for Special Enrollment Periods are those that involve moving to a different ZIP code, moving from a foreign country, or moving to or from transitional housing.

Special Enrollment Period vs. Open Enrollment Period

The length of an Open Enrollment Period may vary depending on the insurance provider and whether you are obtaining health insurance through an employer. Open Enrollment Periods normally last anywhere from 30 to 45 days, and they usually take place near the end of the year. For instance, the Open Enrollment Period this year for the government's Health Insurance Marketplace will run from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.

Special Enrollment Periods usually run from 30 to 60 days, and employers are required to offer Special Enrollment Periods of at least 30 days. You are able to enroll in health insurance plans the same way you would during Open Enrollment, but the time of year that you'll be able to enroll will depend on when a life-changing event took place.

How to Apply for Coverage With a Special Enrollment Period

In most cases, applying for coverage during a Special Enrollment Period is as simple as notifying an employer or your health insurance provider of your qualifying life event. You may need to provide paperwork to prove that a birth, a move or another change took place. If you are going through the government's Health Insurance Marketplace, you can normally fill out a form to request a Special Enrollment Period to see if you are eligible.

If you have recently had a qualifying life event, or want to see if you are eligible for your own Special Enrollment Period, give one of our experienced agents a call at 858-771-4087 or enter your zip code here!