Marketplace Enrollment Periods

I lost my job and my health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can I buy a marketplace plan now or do I have to wait for the next Open Enrollment?

Yes you can apply now.  HealthCare.gov and all state marketplaces have reopened enrollment.  See this FAQ for up to date information on enrollment deadlines.  During this COVID enrollment opportunity, you can sign up regardless of qualifying event.  In addition, new financial help is available for people who have lost their jobs.  See here for more information about COBRA premium subsidies available in 2021.  And see here for more information about enhanced marketplace subsidies for people receiving unemployment insurance benefits in 2021.

Even after the extended COVID enrollment period closes, during the nationwide COVID-19 disaster emergency period, the time limit on marketplace special enrollment periods has been extended. 

If you experienced a qualifying event during the emergency period, your special enrollment period (SEP) to sign up for Marketplace coverage will continue until 60 days after the emergency period ends.  The COVID-19 disaster declarations took effect on January 20, 2020 and remain in effect until further notice.  Check the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) website for updates. 

If your qualifying event was loss of other coverage, healthcare.gov has been updated to make it easier for you to use your SEP to apply for marketplace coverage.  Go to healthcare.gov and create an account.  When you start your application, you will be asked if you have lost other coverage since January 1, 2020. Once you answer yes, healthcare.gov will let you apply for a SEP.  You may be asked for proof of your coverage loss and, if so, you will have 30 days to submit documentation.  Meanwhile, you can continue your application for financial assistance and select a marketplace plan. 

If you experienced a different qualifying event during the pandemic – for example, if you had a baby since the emergency period began – you can also apply for a SEP to buy a marketplace coverage and get extended time to apply.  However, the extension won’t be granted automatically through the application. For qualifying events other than loss of other coverage, you will need to call the marketplace call center (1-800-318-2596) to ask for the extended SEP.   

Marketplace websites in other states that do not use healthcare.gov may operate somewhat differently. 

Navigators are available to help people through this process.  You can find the program closest to you at Find Local Help.

While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the health insurance Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.