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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Launches Special Enrollment Period for Employers

Insurer Responds to COVID-19

CHICAGO – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) announced it will offer a special enrollment period for its group customers. Employees of group sponsored health plans who did not opt in for coverage during the regular enrollment period may have an opportunity to get coverage for their health care needs. The special open enrollment period began April 1 and will end April 30, 2020.

“These are extraordinary times and an extraordinary response is needed. We are stepping up to help meet the health care coverage needs of as many people as possible by opening up a special enrollment period,” said Brian Snell, divisional vice-president of Illinois Group Markets, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

This optional special enrollment period would apply to eligible employees and their dependents who previously declined coverage and now would like to enroll, or currently enrolled employees who wish to add an eligible spouse or dependent to their existing coverage. The effective date for coverage will be April 1, 2020. This enrollment event will be for medical/pharmacy and dental coverage only.

If employees will be losing coverage under their employer health plan, those employees may have several options for alternative coverage.

Marketplace plans:  Any individual with a qualifying life event, such as loss of employer health coverage, can enroll in a Marketplace plan, and some may qualify for financial assistance, depending on their income. Someone who qualifies can view their benefit plan options at

Medicaid plans:  Eligibility for Medicaid depends on income and other state requirements. Employees can view their benefit plan options at

Federal COBRA:  Eligible employers with 20 or more employees must offer coverage under federal COBRA. Employees losing coverage due to a qualifying event, which can include job loss or a reduction in hours, may have the opportunity to enroll in COBRA coverage to continue their current group health plan.

BCBSIL is working closely with many providers and partners to protect the health and the safety of our employees, members, and people in our communities. Other actions we have taken to support members include:

  • Launching a dedicated COVID-19 website so members can easily access information and resources around COVID-19;
  • Waiving preauthorization and lifting members’ copays or deductibles for testing to diagnose COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidelines;
  • Temporarily waiving member cost-sharing, including deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, related to treatment for COVID-19. The waiver applies to costs associated with COVID-19 treatment at in-network facilities and treatment for out-of-network emergencies (may differ by plan), see additional details here;
  • Lifting restrictions on early prescription fills;
  • Lifting cost-sharing for medically necessary and behavioral health services delivered via telemedicine; and
  • Waiving prior authorization requirements for transfers to in-network, medically necessary alternative post-acute facilities until April 30, 2020.


Media Contact

Colleen Miller 


A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association