Special Enrollment Period

If you go through a qualifying life event, or a life change like getting married, having or adopting a baby, or starting a new job, you may be able to enroll in a health plan during the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). SEP takes place when the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) ends each year and continues until it begins again in November.

 

How to Enroll During SEP

You may have a different experience enrolling in a health plan during SEP than you do during OEP. Review the steps you should take after going through a qualifying life event to enroll in a new Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) plan for you and your family.

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1. Experience a Qualifying Life Event

If you've gone through a qualifying life event outside of OEP, you're able to enroll in a health plan during SEP.

Learn about qualifying life events

2. Understand Your Timeline

In most cases, you have 60 days (including weekends and holidays) from the date of your qualifying life event to buy a new health plan.

Understand your enrollment timeline

3. Gather Your Documentation

Before enrolling in your new plan, you'll need to send in documents showing you had a qualifying life event and its date, such as a marriage or adoption certificate.

Review the documents you need

4. Find a BCBSIL Health Plan

Once you've found a plan that fits you and your family, apply and make your first payment for coverage to start.

Start shopping

Applying During SEP

You have three ways to apply for a health plan during SEP.

Phone

Call 866-514-8044 to speak with a BCBSIL licensed sales representative.

Agent

Work with an independent, authorized agent to sign you up.

SEP Qualifying Events

There are many kinds of life events that may qualify you for special enrollment, like:

  • Adopting a child or gaining a dependent through court-order
  • The passing of a policy holder
  • Moving to a new area with different plans or HMO network
  • Getting married
  • Turning 26 while on a family member’s policy
  • Separating or divorcing your spouse
  • Losing health coverage because of a job loss or change, end of COBRA coverage or other reasons1
  • A change in income or household status
  • An employer offering to help with your coverage cost (through an ICHRA  or QSEHRA)
  • Your health care coverage ending on a date other than December 31st of the current plan year
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen2
  • A health insurance company violating its contract with you
  • Becoming a member of an American Indian or Alaska Native tribe2
  • Experiencing an error or other issue when trying to enroll
  • Having an annual individual or household income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level

View a full list of qualifying events.

Not All Life Events Qualify for SEP Enrollment

Non-qualifying events may be:

  • Choosing not to get health care coverage from your job
  • Travel insurance expiring
  • Loss of a short-term or temporary health plan3
  • Gaining voluntary guardianship of a dependent (not authorized by a court)
  • Choosing to cancel your health plan before its renewal or end date
  • Loss of state or federal health care coverage or assistance due to not supplying needed documents as proof
  • Ending participation in a Medical Cost Sharing Group

You can always call us at 866-514-8044 or use the contact form if you have questions or need help.

Important Information About SEP

When you buy or change your health plan during SEP, your health care coverage may not start right away. Your coverage start date is most often based on:

Deadlines

You normally have 60 days (including weekends and holidays) from the date of your qualifying life event to buy a new health plan.

However, you may be able to enroll before your qualifying event occurs, like in the case of losing health care coverage due to job loss. Please call 866-514-8044 with any questions.

Documentation

Before enrolling in a new plan, you'll need to send in approved documents, or proof, showing you had a qualifying life event and your life event date.

View a full list of required documents.

Other Health Care Coverage Options

You may also qualify for Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or other assistance based on your income. These health care coverage options are provided by the government. There’s no SEP, so you can apply at any time. You may also qualify for financial help.

Note: Members of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes can apply for health care coverage any month of the year.

1The following are not considered loss of coverage: voluntarily canceling your health insurance plan, having your plan canceled because you did not pay your premiums or because your plan did not meet the requirements set by the Affordable Care Act for Minimum Essential Coverage.

2Only for health plans bought on the Marketplace.

3BCBSIL does not offer temporary or short-term plans. These plans may not provide the full benefits of a BCBSIL health plan, including essential health benefits.

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Need Assistance Shopping?

Sales Questions and Additional Plan Information:
1-866-514-8044
Calls may or may not be answered inside the United States.

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. CT
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. CT
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. CT

Customer Service:
1-800-538-8833
Calls may or may not be answered inside the United States.

Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. CT
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT
Sunday: Closed

Already a member?
Call the Customer Service number listed on your BCBSIL member ID card.