Signing up for Marketplace Health Insurance During COVID-19: An Important Update

Have you lost your health insurance coverage through work, anytime since January 1st of this year?

Have you thought about signing up for an individual plan through the Marketplace?

Now’s your chance.

A recent change to the Marketplace at could help. Normally, the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to apply for a plan in the Marketplace is 60 days after you lose qualifying coverage or have a qualifying life event (like moving or getting married). But a new rule (called FEMA SEP) allows you more time, because of COVID-19.

Under FEMA SEP, you can sign up for a Marketplace plan, if:

  • You live in an area during a FEMA-declared disaster or emergency (right now, all US states are covered under the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency declaration)
  • You were eligible for another special enrollment period
  • You didn’t enroll during the SEP you were eligible for, due to the impact of the FEMA-declared disaster (in this case, due to COVID-19)

Note: This FEMA SEP only applies to individuals who have experienced SEP-qualifying events since January 1st, 2020.

When you apply for a plan at, the application will ask about the FEMA SEP.  Instead of asking whether you’ve lost coverage in the last 60 days, the application will now ask if you’ve lost coverage since January 1st. But, if you qualified for a SEP unrelated to loss of coverage and could not enroll due to problems caused by COVID-19, you will need to call the Marketplace call center for help (1-800-318-2596).


You can also contact the Marketplace call center to ask for a retroactive effective date instead of the default coverage effective date (the first day of the month after you select a plan). The earliest effective date you can chose is the first day of the month following the event that qualified you for the original SEP, and the FEMA-designated incident start date.

You may also qualify for financial assistance that lowers your monthly premiums to buy a plan through the Marketplace. For 2020, an estimated 28% of people who are currently uninsured could get a Bronze level plan in the Marketplace for a $0 monthly premium.

For more information about health insurance, Marketplace coverage, special enrollment periods, and more, visit or

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Monica Bryant