Industry News

New COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period in Individual Market Feb 15 – May 15

On Jan 28, in response to an executive order signed by President Biden, CMS announced it will provide a special 3-month open enrollment opportunity from Feb 15 through May 15 for individuals and families to apply for Marketplace (on-exchange) coverage. On Mar 24, BCBS announced it will also make their medical and dental plans available off-exchange during the same period too. The executive order cites the exceptional circumstances caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. CMS refers to the opportunity as a Special Enrollment Period.

  • Unlike traditional SEPs, individuals and families can apply for medical and/or dental coverage on-exchange or off-exchange with BCBS without a qualifying life event and without submitting qualifying documentation.
  • The effective date of coverage will be the first day of the month following plan selection.
  • This SEP is for on-exchange applications with all carriers. It is unclear if other carriers will make their plans available off-exchange like BCBS has.
  • BCBS producers and customers may use all enrollment channels to complete enrollments—Retail Producer Portal, Retail Shopping Cart, Paper, and via
  • Individuals who experience a qualifying life event are still able to apply for coverage, with documentation, on and off exchange.
  • For on-exchange enrollments, this SEP applies to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) and the 36 states, including TX, that use it.
  • Brokers must be registered with the FFM in 2021 to discuss and sell policies on-exchange. Visit CMS’s registration and training page for more information.

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