“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” – Winston S. Churchill
The 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP) has officially been extended to August 15th of this year on HealthCare.gov. The SEP is a time for individuals to sign up for health insurance outside of open enrollment, which normally takes place between November 1st and December 15th of every year. Typically, only those that fall into a qualifying event category (change of address, marriage, children) could enroll outside of the open enrollment window. However, in this special case, due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, no other qualifying event is necessary to change your current plan or enroll for the first time. This exceptional case began on February 15th and originally was intended to close on May 15th, but the Biden Administration have decided to extend it to allow more people to have access to affordable healthcare.
How does the special enrollment period work?
Usually, as mentioned above, the Special Enrollment Period opens when there are life changes that trigger your own 60-day enrollment window. Some examples include getting married, having or adopting a baby, or if someone on your plan dies, resulting in the loss of your current health plan. Other qualifications for a change in plan include changes in where you’re currently residing and losing qualified health insurance. This could be the case, whether it was from your job, via a family member, or losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP.
Formerly, during the usual open enrollment period (OEP), registration was required by the 15th of the previous month for your coverage to go into effect the following month. During this special enrollment period, if you are to complete registration by the end of the month, then your coverage will begin on the 1st of the following month. This previous requirement of completion by the 15th will be eliminated starting in 2022 for states regulated by healthcare.gov.
Now, the new administration is allowing this extra one-time opportunity for people to take advantage of, with the goal to provide better access to affordable healthcare. This is especially due to the 29% of Americans that lost access to health insurance in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
How can I enroll during this special enrollment period?
You can register online in any state that uses healthcare.gov, or check provided sources in state-run insurance markets to find out more information about this special enrollment period. To see plans and price estimates for 2021 without having to register first, enter your zip code and basic information on the healthcare plans website. Meeting or talking with an insurance agent will help ease the process to find the best option, rates, and coverage that you’re looking for.
It’s important to note that the 2021 SEP is not available nationwide. This is a special case due to the pandemic that is only accessible to states currently using the healthcare.gov system. Therefore, not all states are allowing this full extension, but a lot are accommodating it in some way. To discover what the options are in your location of residence, check out your state’s health coverage enrollment website to see how they are handling it and what their deadline is. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are available year-round for enrollment.
Who qualifies for the special enrollment period?
Not only can people who didn’t have access to proper healthcare before now qualify, but those who are already registered can also make changes to their premiums without having to wait until the end of the year. Those who were already in the marketplace prior and those who were not previously eligible because of income, may now be eligible for greater tax credits than before. With more opportunities for subsidies, we’re seeing an influx of younger people opting in for health coverage.
Not sure if you qualify for a special enrollment or need help choosing the best insurance plan for you? UrHealth Benefits is here for all Ur (your) healthcare needs. Whether you are looking for Life, Individual & Family Health, Supplemental, Travel and Medicare Insurances, UrHealth is here as a resource for you and your loved ones. Contact UrHealth Benefits to find the best personalized plan that fits your lifestyle and to simplify the insurance process.