Open enrollment under the ACA – when individuals can buy or switch health insurance plans in the marketplace – is typically limited to a specific time period during the year, unless there are certain special circumstances.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HealthCare.gov has re-opened for a special enrollment period from February 15 to August 15, 2021 to allow people to buy health insurance coverage this year. Some states that operate their own marketplaces (separate from HealthCare.gov) are also opening enrollment to allow people to purchase insurance through the health insurance marketplaces outside of the typical enrollment period.

Use this locator to find your state’s marketplace website for more information about coverage options available to you.

People who lose their job and with it their employer-sponsored insurance, as well as those in other special circumstances (e.g. marriage, divorce, a move, birth of a child), may be allowed to enroll outside of the open enrollment period. If you anticipate a coverage loss, you can apply for special enrollment in the ACA up to 60 days in advance. 

Those with low to moderate incomes may qualify for federal subsidies to buy a new plan through the marketplace. In some cases, you may pay no premium at all.

Additionally, some people may be eligible for Medicaid. Eligibility is typically determined based on monthly household income, so people completely out of work or losing hours may newly qualify. Enrollment in Medicaid is ongoing throughout the year.

Plans purchased through the ACA marketplace cannot cancel or deny coverage or charge you more due to health status, including diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 or HIV. Click here for 3 things to know about COVID-19 and your marketplace coverage.

While every effort has been made to provide accurate and current information, please contact the marketplace or Medicaid agency in your state to confirm options in your area. The website is a product of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health care organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.