Important: The 2021 annual open enrollment period to buy an individual and family health plan closed Dec. 15, 2020 for health coverage to start Jan. 1, 2021. If you miss this enrollment period, you can still buy a plan in the Exchange Dec. 16, 2020 though Jan. 15, 2021 for coverage to start Feb. 1, 2021.
General special enrollment
If you have a qualifying event, you may get a special enrollment period (SEP) to buy an individual health plan. This means you can enroll in or change your health insurance plan outside the standard open enrollment period. For some types of special enrollment events, special enrollment periods last 60 days from the date of the qualifying event (see below for examples). However, for the most common occurring special enrollment events, such as a loss of coverage, you may also enroll 60 days in advance of the special enrollment event. If you don't qualify for a SEP, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment period.
Note: You don't qualify for a SEP if you voluntarily cancel your health insurance or your insurer cancels you because you don't pay your premium.
Effective dates of coverage involve a complex set of rules depending on the type of special enrollment event and when you enroll. Please contact the exchange at 855-923-4633 regarding special enrollment dates and your circumstances.
Individual health plans
Qualifying events for SEPs include, but aren't limited to:
- Losing health coverage, including an employer plan or an individual policy.
- Losing Apple Health (Medicaid) because you no longer qualify.
- Giving birth to or adopting a child.
- Permanently moving to a new area where your current plan doesn't provide coverage.
- Employer not paying your COBRA premium on time.
- COBRA coverage period ending (usually 18 months) or reaching the lifetime limit.
- Your dependent turning age 26 and losing his or her coverage on your employer’s plan.
- Getting married or entering into a domestic partnership.
- You're recently divorced or legally separated and you lost your health insurance.
- Canceling your Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP) coverage.
- Your health plan no longer being offered for sale in Washington state.
Individual health plans only inside the Exchange
See if you qualify for SEP for a health plan through the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org).
Note: The Exchange and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have the authority to create additional qualifying events for special enrollment periods. Contact the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) for more information.
Where to buy a plan
If you buy a plan:
- Outside the Exchange - contact an insurance agent or broker.
- Inside the Exchange - contact the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org).