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Health Insurance Spotlight: Enrollment Periods

Enrolling in or changing a health plan is different than, say for example, changing cell phone service. You can’t get a new health plan or make a change anytime. You can enroll in a new plan or change an existing plan only:

  • During annual open enrollment
  • During a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) which requires a Qualifying Life Event (QLE)

Annual Open Enrollment: The time period each year when you’re allowed to start new coverage, add eligible dependents, or change your health insurance plan. During this time, anyone can apply for coverage for the upcoming benefit year.

SEP: The time period when you can sign up for health insurance outside of the annual annual open enrollment. For example, you can enroll in a plan if you experience a life event that qualifies you for a SEP.

QLE: A change in your situation that makes you eligible for a SEP and allows you to enroll in coverage outside the annual the annual open enrollment. The following are examples, not a full list.

  • Getting married
  • Having or adopting a child
  • Losing existing health coverage

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