Relocating is seldom a simple process. With so much to consider – change of address forms, hiring movers, and of course packing – it’s no surprise that some of the smaller details slip through the cracks. Just make sure your Medicare coverage isn’t one of them. Depending on your current coverage, moving can have a big impact. In this post, we look at how changing states affects Medicare.
Update Your Mailing Address with Social Security
The first thing you need to do when you move is update your address with Social Security and Medicare. Updating your information is simple (and you should do it any time your address changes, even if you just move next door). Go to your MyMedicare.gov account to update Medicare information. For Social Security, go to your MySocialSecurity account.
If you do not currently have a My Medicare or My Social Security account, you can also create one by visiting those links.
Updating your information ensures you continue receiving all communications regarding your benefits. Remember, all Medicare communications are via United States mail. Medicare will never call you unless you’ve specifically requested a call. (Knowing this helps protect you against Medicare scam artists.)
Changing States for Original Medicare Users
Original Medicare, also known as Parts A & B, offers the same coverage no matter where you are in the United States. If you have Original Medicare only and move from state to state, there is no need to do anything in order to keep your coverage intact.
Since you will not be able to keep the same doctor when you move, you also need to choose a new primary care physician in your new location. This doctor should also be able to recommend new specialists.
When changing doctors, it is necessary to arrange to have your medical records transferred to your new physician. An easy way to do this is to ask for copies from your old doctor and take them with you to your new home.
Moving with Medicare Parts C & D
A significant number of people also have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan (also known as Part C). These plans provide both inpatient and outpatient coverage; some also offer prescription drug coverage. If you have an MA plan, you’ll most likely need to change it when you move (call your plan to be sure). You may also choose to return to Original Medicare. Luckily, changing addresses qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period.
If you have a Medicare Part D plan, call to see whether it travels with you. In addition, look at any changes to costs and coverage. Your new area may have better Part D plan options. Our online tool lets you compare Medicare plans in your area. It’s quick, easy, and free.
When Can You Use Your Special Enrollment Period?
If you have a Part C or Part D plan and you are permanently moving outside the service area of these plans, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you move outside your service area, you must inform your insurer of the move immediately. This allows you to switch plans up to a month prior to the move and up to two months after.
If you tell your insurer after your move, you can switch plans in the month you gave notice of the move and the two months after.
Moving into or out of a Nursing Home
The rules change slightly if you are either moving into or out of a nursing home as you can switch from:
- One Medicare Advantage plan to another
- One Part D plan to another
- Part C to Original Medicare
- Original Medicare to Part C
These changes can be made while in the nursing home and for up to two months after the month you move out.
Moving with Medigap
You must notify your insurer but do not necessarily need to switch companies. Medigap plans are standardized across the U.S. For instance, Plan G offers you the same coverage no matter what state you live in. However, if medical care is deemed more expensive in the state you are moving to, your insurer is permitted to increase your Medigap monthly premium.
If you have a Medigap Select plan (one that requires the use of in-network providers), you can change policies if you move out of the plan’s area of service. There is a limited amount of time where this is allowable so get in touch with your insurer to ensure you fully understand all the rules.
Changing Addresses and Medicare Annual Enrollment
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 through December 7. It gives all Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare plan. While moving qualifies you for an SEP, if you know you’re moving in January, AEP is the perfect time to make changes.
As always, the licensed agents at Medicare Solutions are here to help you understand your Medicare plan options. Just call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 to get started.