Thank you for the information and your question. Unfortunately, the employer and plan administrator are right. Since I assume this was not an issue of a new marriage in the middle of a plan year, in which case you could have enrolled her mid-year after you were married, the only time the law allows for adding her is during open enrollment. That is an absolute rule of the law. An employer and plan administrator would violate the law ERISA and tax laws by allowing enrollment outside of open enrollment in this case.
Also, although the employer could have a system to alert employees that they have left off a family member, they are under no legal duty to do that for an employee. The responsibility lies only on the employee to enroll their eligible family members during enrollment periods.
As for an alternative since your wife is apparently not covered under other insurance, it sounds like she may qualify for SSDI (if she has had enough employment credits) or SSI if not, and that, in turn, could qualify her for Medicaid, depending on the household income, in the short term and after 2 years on SSDI she would qualify for Medicare. Otherwise, she will need to find insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA otherwise known as Obamacare). If she needs help enrolling and finding the best plan for her situation, there are usually local organizations that assist with that process. Otherwise, she can do her search online. Finally, if you all cannot afford coverage, and qualify, she may be able to receive some free health care assistance through the local public health care clinic.
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