When can I enroll in my employer health plan?

Usually, you can sign up for health benefits when you are first hired. Most employers also have an annual open enrollment period, or open season, when you can sign up for coverage or (if your employer offers a choice of plans) change your enrollment to a different health plan. In addition, there are special circumstances, called “qualifying events” that trigger a “special enrollment opportunity” outside of the normally scheduled annual open season. These qualifying events include loss of eligibility for other coverage (for example, because of job loss or reduction in hours worked, death, divorce or legal separation, or loss of dependent status) and certain life events such as marriage, or the birth or adoption of a child. In general, you must be offered a special enrollment opportunity of at least 30 days following these qualifying events to enroll in your job-based health plan.

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