Special Enrollment

Special-Enrollment Period Due to Coronavirus Maybe Available

Having health insurance is critical — now more than ever. During this time of national emergency, we know there are thousands of people affected by income changes, reduced hours and layoffs leaving many people without health insurance coverage. If you’ve been affected, you can call us at 888-500-2578 to see if you’re eligible.

What is special enrollment?

People who experience a qualifying life event can newly enroll in a health plan even outside the open-enrollment period. People who already have a plan who experience a qualifying life event can change their coverage or choose a new plan.

Get Help Applying

You can apply online or call us. You may experience longer than normal wait times due to the current circumstances, but we’re encouraging consumers to call and not seek in-person help.

Other Qualifying Life Events

You recently lost or will soon lose your coverage.

  • You lose Medi-Cal coverage.
  • You lose your employer-sponsored coverage.
  • Your COBRA coverage is exhausted. (Note: Not paying your COBRA premium is not considered loss of coverage.)
  • You are no longer eligible for student health coverage.
  • You turn 19 years old and are no longer eligible for a child-only plan.
  • You turn 26 years old and are no longer eligible for a parent’s plan. If your parent has coverage through Covered California, you can stay in their plan until coverage ends on Dec. 31, even if you turn 26 mid-year. If your parent has a job-based plan, you qualify for a special-enrollment period to buy health insurance. Your special-enrollment period starts 60 days before you lose coverage and ends 60 days after.

You recently moved to or within California.

  • You move to California from out of state.
  • You move within California and gain access to at least one new Covered California health insurance plan.
  • This category also applies to individuals who are released from jail or prison.
  • You recently got married or entered into a domestic partnership.
  • One or both members of the new couple can use the special-enrollment period to enroll in coverage.
  • A child is born, adopted or received into foster care. The entire family can use the special-enrollment period to enroll in coverage.
  • If you receive a child in foster care, you will need to indicate “adopted a child” in the drop-down menu when you apply.

These are just some of the more common qualifying life events. Read more about special enrollment and qualifying life events.

Covered California can also determine, on a case-by-case basis, that you experienced an exceptional circumstance that could allow for a special-enrollment period.

Deadlines to Enroll After a Qualifying Life Event

For most qualifying life events, you have 60 days from the date on which the qualifying life event happens to enroll in a Covered California health insurance plan or change their existing plan. If 60 days pass and you do not sign up for health coverage, you will have to wait until the next open-enrollment period.

How to Enroll After a Qualifying Life Event

For many qualifying life events, you can enroll online. You can also call the Covered California service center at (800) 300-1506. Service center representatives can answer any questions you have about a qualifying life event and can help you enroll in or change health insurance plans. Visit the Find Help page for more resources including certified agents and Navigators.

Start Dates and Avoiding Gaps in Coverage

Your coverage start date will depend on your qualifying life event.

For these life events, coverage will start on the first day of the month following enrollment:

  • Needing coverage due to COVID-19.
  • Losing Medi-Cal or job-based coverage.
  • Marriage or registered domestic partnership.


For the birth or adoption of a child, or acceptance of a child into foster care, your coverage starts on the first day of the month following the birth, adoption, or placement in foster care but you can choose to have coverage start on the date of the birth, adoption, or placement in foster care, or on the first day of the month following enrollment.

For most other qualifying life events, the start date for coverage depends on the date of enrollment. If you enroll by the 15th day of the month, coverage will start on the first day of the next month. If you enroll after the 15th day of the month, coverage will start on the first day of the second month. For example, if you enroll on April 10, coverage will start on May 1. If you enroll on April 16, coverage will start on June 1.

Documents to Verify a Qualifying Life Event

Some consumers who apply for Covered California coverage in a special-enrollment period are asked to submit verification of their qualifying life event. If you receive a letter asking you to submit documents for your qualifying life event, check the Special Enrollment Acceptable Document List to select the right document to send to us.