Medicare Glossary

Definitions for common Medicare terms

special election period

DEFINITION: A special election period, also known as a special enrollment period, is a time period during which Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare Advantage or Part D coverage outside of the normal annual open enrollment period and after their initial enrollment period has ended.

A special election period will be triggered by a qualifying event, which can include a move from the area covered by a recipient’s existing Medicare plan, loss of other coverage, a violation of policy terms by a plan provider or other reasons approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

There are special election periods for Medigap as well (known as “guaranteed issue rights”), but they’re more limited, and Medigap does not have an annual open enrollment period.