A big move or relocation to a different state is an exciting time. You‘re looking forward to all sorts of new opportunities and experiences. At the same time, you’re dealing with lots of different logistics. Your health insurance coverage, for instance, can seem like a daunting roadblock to overcome. If you are currently enrolled in Medicare, understanding how your coverage works within your new area is crucial.
It's important to understand how your coverage will work within your new state. While Medicare is a federal program, there are a few differences in coverage and availability depending on the state you live in. This means you'll need to do some research to ensure that you're able to access the care you need when you need it.
With these points in mind, here’s what you need to know about Medicare and moving to another state.
Moving & Original Medicare Coverage
If you’re a Medicare-eligible consumer with Original Medicare Part A or Part B benefits and are planning to move to another state, then your coverage will remain largely unaffected by your relocation. This is because this is a nationwide program operated by the federal government.
However, you’ll want to take the time to update your address through the Social Security Administration. This might seem like a minor detail, but the consequences of not doing so can be severe. Without your correct address on file, you’ll be unable to receive any benefits through the mail or communications related to your Medicare coverage.
Moving & Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare beneficiaries with Medigap or Medicare Supplement Plans can often maintain their Medicare plans when moving to another state, assuming they are enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B.
In some cases, you will need to switch to a new Medigap plan if your current plan does not offer coverage in your new location. There are a few states that offer different Medigap plans than the standard offerings across the United States.
For example, Medigap benefits are standardized across 47 states, but Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts have their own regulations.
Also, if you have a pre-existing condition, you should be aware of your guaranteed-issue rights, which allow you to enroll in a new Medicare plan without undergoing medical underwriting. Without guaranteed-issue rights, you may be subject to higher premiums or even rejected when trying to switch from your current plan, so it's essential to do your research before making any changes.
Moving & Medicare Advantage Plans
When you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will typically need to enroll in a new plan if you move to a new location because the networks of doctors and other health care providers that are included in Medicare Part C can vary between different states. If you don’t research your options and enroll in a new plan, you may face expensive medical bills or coverage restrictions due to the limited number of providers in your new area.
If you do need to re-enroll to maintain Medicare coverage when moving to another state, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. This period allows you to switch to Original Medicare coverage or enroll in a different Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan outside of the regular enrollment periods. This can be especially helpful if you want to switch to a plan that has a larger network of providers in your new area or if you want to take advantage of different benefits that are available to you under another plan. Read our Guide to Medicare Special Enrollment Periods to learn more.
Moving & Medicare Part D
If you have a standalone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D), you will also need to switch plans when moving to a new coverage area because prices and benefits can vary depending on where you live. That means that the plan that you currently have may not be the best option for you in your new location. By taking the time to enroll in a new plan that is better suited to your needs, you can make sure you have the coverage you need to get the care that you need, regardless of where you live.
One of the most critical aspects of moving is to update your address in countless places. But, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is one organization that you must notify about your move. You can do so by either:
Tip: Updating your address with the SSA can help you to avoid any gaps in coverage as you get settled in your new home. This is especially true if you receive Medicare benefits, which may vary depending on the state you live in.
If you’re looking for a new Medicare plan in your new location, take the time to compare Medicare benefits and costs of the different plans available in the area. Be sure to assess your healthcare needs and do your best to anticipate any potential changes that may occur in the near future. In other words, you should pick a Medicare plan that matches your current and future healthcare needs while offering flexibility to change things up as needed.
Dual eligible individuals—those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid—can get a variety of cost-saving benefits through their plans. When it comes to moving to a new state, though, there are a few important aspects to keep in mind.
#1. Medicare coverage is consistent across the country as a federal program, while Medicaid is state-specific. This means that if you move to a new state, you will need to apply for new Medicaid coverage in that state. Eligibility requirements may vary from state to state, so you'll want to do your research to see if you qualify for coverage in your new location.
#2. There may be restrictions on which healthcare providers are covered by your Medicare plan in your new location. For example, certain providers may not be in-network with your new Medicaid plan. It's always a good idea to check with your plan provider to see if your current doctors and specialists will still be covered under your new coverage.
Whether you’re moving to the next town or across the country, it’s key to know how your Medicare plan may (or may not) move with you to avoid gaps in coverage. With a little bit of planning and plenty of preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy the excitement of your relocation without worrying about unforeseen healthcare expenses or delays in your Medicare coverage when moving to another state.
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