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Special Enrollment Period

Special enrollment period (SEP) is a time outside the annual open enrollment period when you can enroll in private health insurance. SEP events also allow for special effective dates for when coverage starts. These special effective dates are applied even during open enrollment. You qualify for a SEP if you've had certain "qualifying life events." Examples of these life events include having a baby, getting married, moving to a new area or losing other health coverage. 

If you qualify for a special enrollment period, you usually have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan. If you miss that window, you have to wait until the next open enrollment period to apply.

You don't need to qualify for a special enrollment to enroll in Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare. If you qualify, you can enroll in one of these government-sponsored health programs year-round. 

Special Enrollment Period during Open Enrollment 

Losing Your Coverage? You May Still Qualify for February 1 Coverage

You may qualify for a special enrollment period if you or someone in your household lost "qualifying health insurance" in the past 60 days OR expect to lose coverage in the next 60 days. For example, if you lose:

  • Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare coverage
  • employer-sponsored coverage because a job is ending 
  • private coverage because your 2016 health plan is discontinued in 2017. This includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield customers and HealthPartners customers living in certain counties. Apply by January 31 for February 1 coverage. 

Voluntary loss of coverage because premiums were not paid on time, including COBRA premiums, does not qualify you for a special enrollment period.

Still Need 2016 Coverage?

You generally do not need to qualify for a special enrollment period to enroll in or change plans during open enrollment for 2017 coverage. However, you may experience a life event that allows you to enroll in 2016 coverage through the end of open enrollment (January 31, 2017). For example, your household size changes because you have a baby born on November 25, 2016. You have 60 days to enroll your baby in coverage that will be effective on the date of its birth.

Qualifying Life Events

See what life events qualify for a special enrollment period.

Guide to Special Enrollment Period

MNsure's Guide to Special Enrollment Period gives you details on what life events qualify, when to enroll and deadlines.

COBRA Alternative

Special enrollment period for those currently on COBRA.

How to Apply for Special Enrollment Period

Step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a special enrollment period. (You can get expert help from an assister near you).

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