QUESTION

I am uninsured and worried about the COVID-19 pandemic. Can I enroll in insurance now, or do I have to wait for the next Open Enrollment Period?

Individuals with no coverage | Navigating Health Insurance Marketplace Options Open and Special Enrollment Periods Coverage Outside the Marketplace
ANSWER

It depends. As of March 26, 2020, 11 states and the District of Columbia have opened special enrollment periods for those who are currently uninsured amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To see if your state has opened a special enrollment period, see this state-by-state map.

Note that you may be eligible for a special enrollment period in the remaining states if you meet certain criteria, like losing job-based health insurance or moving. For more information, see our FAQ on special enrollment periods.

If you are ineligible for or miss a special enrollment period, you must wait for the next Open Enrollment Period to sign up for health insurance.

Note that if your income is below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for Medicaid benefits depending on the state you live in. Check with your state’s marketplace or Medicaid agency to determine if you are eligible for Medicaid.

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which includes a one-time tax rebate payment to a majority of Americans as well as an increase of $600 per week to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for up to four months, until July 31, 2020. Note that both the one-time tax rebate and the increase of $600 per week in UI benefits will be disregarded in the assessment for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility. The increased UI benefits, however, will be counted as income when applying for premium tax subsidies on the individual insurance market. For more information, see this FAQ from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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