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Special enrollment What you need to know

The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is a period of time outside of the Open Enrollment period during which you may be eligible to apply for an individual or family health plan. If you experience a Qualifying Life Event, such as getting married, having or adopting a baby, losing your coverage, or permanently moving into a new service area, you may qualify for a SEP.

Open Enrollment for 2020 health care coverage has ended, but you may still be eligible to enroll in or make changes to a health plan during Special Enrollment – if you have a Qualifying Life Event.

When can I enroll during a Special Enrollment Period?

A Special Enrollment Period occurs if you have a qualifying life event. In most cases, you will have 60 days after the Qualifying Life Event to enroll in or make changes to a health plan.

Certain life events, like moving into the Independence Blue Cross coverage area, allow you to apply for a health plan up to 60 days before a qualifying life event. If you are losing health care coverage provided by an employer, you will have up to 60 days before and after this Qualifying Life Event to enroll in a health plan.

When you apply for a Special Enrollment Period for the following Qualifying Life Events, you will be sent an Eligibility Notice for Coverage.

This notice will include a list of acceptable documents you may provide to prove your eligibility for the Special Enrollment Period. Please provide these documents by the deadline listed in the notice to avoid disruptions to your health care coverage. You must send the documents before you can start using your health care coverage. You can preview a sample of the Eligibility Notice (under “Special Enrollment Periods”). Learn more about acceptable documents and when the Health Insurance Marketplace requires you to submit documentation.

What are Qualifying Life Events?

A Qualifying Life Event, also known as a QLE, is a change in circumstance that may allow you to enroll in coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment period.

Qualifying Life Events include:

  • Birth
  • Marriage
  • Adoption/Foster care
  • Loss of coverage1
  • Permanent move into insurer’s network
  • You become a U.S. citizen

For the following Qualifying Life Events, please visit healthcare.gov:

  • You have a change in income or household status that affects your eligibility for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions.
  • If you are a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or Alaskan Native, you have an open enrollment throughout the year and can change plans as often as once a month.

Timing of Qualifying Life Events and Special Enrollment

The following chart provides more details about Qualifying Life Events and the timing of Special Enrollment Periods resulting from them.

Qualifying Life Event Effective date of coverage Special enrollment period Example
Birth
(Not limited to child only)
Date of birth Up to 60 days after the event Your child is born on May 1. You have until June 29 to apply for an effective date of May 1.
Adoption/Foster care2
(Not limited to child only)
Date of adoption or placement Up to 60 days after the event Your child is placed with family on May 1. You have until June 29 to apply for an effective date of May 1.
Loss of coverage3
  • Losing coverage through your job
  • Legally separated or divorced from your spouse
  • COBRA expiration
  • Losing eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP
  • Denial of open CHIP or Medicaid application after Open Enrollment
  • Victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment
If the loss of coverage is in the future: the first (1st) of the month following the loss of coverage

If the loss of coverage is in the past: the first (1st) of the month following the date the application was submitted
Up to 60 days before and up to 60 days after the event You will be losing health care coverage through your job on May 1 (future date). You may apply for coverage anytime between March 3 and June 29.
  • If you apply between March 3 and April 30, your coverage will be effective on May 1
  • If you apply between May 1 and May 31, your coverage will be effective on June 1
  • If you apply between June 1 and June 29, your coverage will be effective on July 1
Moved into the insurer’s coverage area
  • You change your permanent residence to the Independence Blue Cross five-county service area
  • You become a U.S. citizen
If within the first 15 days of the month: the first (1st) of the following month after the application has been submitted

On or after the 16th of the month: the first (1st) of the second month following the submission of the application
Up to 60 days after the event You are moving into the Independence Blue Cross coverage area effective May 1. You may apply for coverage anytime between April 2 and June 29.
  • If you apply between April 2 and April 15, your coverage will be effective on May 1
  • If you apply between April 16 and May 15, your coverage will be effective on June 1
  • If you apply between May 16 and June 15, your coverage will be effective on July 1
  • If you apply between June 16 and June 29, your coverage will be effective August 1

1 Loss of coverage due to voluntarily canceling your health insurance plan, having your plan canceled because you did not pay your premium or because your plan did not meet the requirements as stated by the Health Care Law do not qualify as life events that allow you to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period.

2 This is the date the adopting parents receive the adoptee, regardless of whether papers were filed.

3 If the loss of coverage is due to a Qualified Health Plan decertification, the life event is the official notice of decertification. In all other cases, it is the date the individual loses eligibility for Affordable Care Act compliant plan.

How to apply during a Special Enrollment Period