When Can I Buy Health Insurance?

Open Enrollment starts November 1 and ends January 31. If you want coverage to start January 1, you must choose a plan on or before December 31, 2020. Open Enrollment happens once a year. It is the only time you can enroll in coverage unless you have a major life event.

If you have a life-changing event, you can buy health coverage without waiting for the yearly Open Enrollment. Certain events such as losing job-based coverage, having a baby, or moving all qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

If you qualify for an SEP, you usually have up to 60 days after the event to enroll in a plan. If you miss that 60-days, you have to wait until the next Open Enrollment to apply.

Note:  If you qualify for an SEP, you can enroll in Marketplace coverage now at HealthCare.gov. You can also review your plan options on and off the Marketplace here. You can enroll in NJ FamilyCare, the state’s publicly funded health insurance program with free or low-cost health coverage, any time of year without qualifying for an SEP.

What is a life-changing event?

Life-changing events include but are not limited to:
  • Losing health coverage, such as job-based, individual, and student plans
  • Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
  • Reaching age 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan
Changes in household:
  • Had a baby, adopted a child, or placed a child for foster care
  • Got married
  • Got divorced or legally separated and lost health insurance
Changes in residence:
  • Moved to New Jersey or a new area within New Jersey
  • Moved to New Jersey from a foreign country or U.S. territory
  • If you're a student, moved to or from the place you attend school
  • Moved to or from a shelter or other transitional housing
Other qualifying events:
  • Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen
  • Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
  • AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service

Note: If you qualify for an SEP, you may be asked to send documentation to confirm the events that qualify you. You must send the papers before you can start using your coverage. Your coverage start date is based on when you choose a plan. You cannot use your coverage until you confirm your eligibility and pay your first premium. For more information about enrolling in 2020 coverage, visit Existing Marketplace Customers.


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