2020 was nothing if not a confusing, overwhelming mess. So in January, President Biden gave us all a bit of a pass due to COVID-19, calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reopen HealthCare.Gov so that those who may have missed the annual open enrollment period could have some additional time to secure health insurance. What’s more, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law on March 11, which increased ACA benefits and subsidies and lowered costs. So even if you’ve shopped for health insurance in the past, revisiting your options makes sense, as millions of additional Americans qualify for financial help or even free plans.
Welcome to the 2021 Special Enrollment Period.
What is the special enrollment period and why is it important?
Beginning on February 15 and ending on August 15, this Special Enrollment Period aims to increase access to and awareness of the ACA marketplace and the ARP benefits. This Special Enrollment Period means that you can secure coverage now without needing to show a loss of previous coverage or any other major life change. Nearly 9 in 10 people who shop for coverage at HealthCare.Gov qualify for financial help to cover monthly costs, and millions of people qualify for a $0/month plans that come with low out-of-pocket costs, like low deductibles and copays. In short: If you’re uninsured, you have some extra time to change that, and the time has never been better.
What is the normal enrollment period and when is it?
The normal open enrollment period usually takes place from November 1 through January 31. During this three-month window, those seeking health insurance can do so through their employer or the ACA marketplace to secure coverage for the forthcoming year or make changes to existing plans.
Can I enroll outside of these periods?
You can enroll or change any time if you experience a life event that qualifies for another special enrollment period. Qualifying life events are things like getting married, having a baby, a divorce or separation that causes you to lose coverage, or moving out of state. You can learn more about signing up for health insurance outside of open enrollment here.
I’m already insured—can I switch plans?
Yes! Those who opted into a plan during the normal enrollment period have the opportunity to switch things up if they so choose.
How can I get help enrolling?
With all the new coverage options available, health insurance can be intimidating. If you want help navigating the enrollment process, you can work with a local expert assister to walk you through the process and find the best plan for you for free at GetCoveredAmerica.org.
Appointments are available virtually, and in some cases, in-person.