Special Enrollment Period

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What Is Special Enrollment?

The typical time most people choose their health insurance plans is during an Open Enrollment Period. This OEP is a specific time each year when insurance companies allow you to sign up for health insurance. Each state varies somewhat in its OEP dates, but usually, this period is from November 1 through December 15.

You may qualify to apply for health insurance outside of Open Enrollment during a Special Enrollment Period. To be eligible for a SEP, you must meet specific qualifications (i.e., experience what is referred to as a special event), such as losing your health insurance coverage, getting married or having a baby. During a SEP, you can also make changes to your current coverage. 

Do I Qualify for Special Enrollment?

Several specific events will qualify you for the eligibility to enroll during a SEP. Some of these life events include:

Depending on the type of life event you've encountered, you have a specific time frame for enrolling in a plan during the SEP. Most of the time, it is 60 days before or 60 days following the special event. 

How Does Special Enrollment for Medicare Differ?

As with traditional health insurance, Open Enrollment is the set time to enroll for a new Medicare plan or change your current Medicare plan. Open Enrollment for Medicare is typically from October 15 through December 7, and Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage is generally from January 1 through March 31. 

Like traditional health insurance, some exceptional circumstances allow people to enroll in or change Medicare plans, including Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription coverage. A Special Enrollment Period is a time outside of the Open Enrollment time frame. Each SEP has different rules about what type of changes you can make and when you can make the changes. If you have any of these life events occur, you can probably enroll during the SEP:

Sometimes you have the eligibility to enroll in Medicare if you are under the standard age of 64.5. If you have received Social Security Disability for the past two years and are permanently disabled, have end-stage kidney disease, or suffer from Lou Gehrig’s disease, you may qualify for Medicare. 

Maybe it's out of the Open Enrollment time frame, but you haven't experienced any of the special events to qualify for SEP. In this case, you may be eligible to enroll in short-term health insurance. You can choose from short-term plans that are available, which range from one month to a year. These plans may not provide the coverage that traditional plans offer, or they may have higher deductibles, co-pays, and/or co-insurance. However, they are generally an excellent option to get you through until the next Open Enrollment or until you qualify for Special Enrollment.

If you determine that you need more coverage than the basic Medicare plan includes (hospital insurance and medical insurance), there are additional options. Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) replaces Parts A and B and is supported by private health insurance companies. It also provides additional coverages, such as those for prescription medication, hearing, dental and vision. Supplemental Medicare plans (aka Medigap) are insurance plans (Parts F, G, K, L, M and N) you can buy from private health insurance companies. Each of these plans has specific benefits. Part F tends to be the most attractive supplemental plan because you don't pay anything out-of-pocket beyond your monthly premium. 

No matter when your enrollment period begins, HealthPlans makes shopping for health insurance coverage quick and easy. We do this by taking the information you give us and showing you the plan options to best suit your needs. This assistance takes some guesswork out of trying to navigate through the often convoluted waters of health insurance. We're here to support you in your search for an insurance plan that includes all your coverage demands for a price you can afford. We guarantee you'll find the lowest insurance rates on It's not just about selling insurance; we want to make sure you understand everything you need to know about health insurance by providing you with helpful information. We're proud to be able to connect people like you who need insurance with our partners, who offer excellent insurance solutions regardless of your circumstances.

Contact us today, to speak with an insurance broker about the best health insurance plans in your local area.