Relocating is seldom a simple process, and it is easy to allow small details to slip through the cracks. Make sure your Medicare coverage is not one of them! If you are moving from one state to another, there are certain steps you may need to take depending on the type of coverage you currently have.
Although you may not need to do anything more complicated than informing the Social Security Administration (SSA) about your change of address, it is possible that you will need to choose a new health plan because not all Medicare plans are transferrable from state to state. Read on to find out how your move may affect your coverage.
Original Medicare Users
Traditional 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.
You do however need to notify the SSA about your change of address. You can change your address online if your receive Social Security benefits by going to My Social Security and answering selected security questions. Note: This is only possible if you have a permanent Social Security password.
Since you will not be able to keep the same doctor when you move, you will 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.
Medicare Parts C & D
A significant number of people also have a Medicare Advantage plan (also known as Part C) which offers inpatient and outpatient coverage, and Part D prescription drugs coverage. You will need to find out if your Part C plan still provides coverage in your new area. Generally, those covered by Medicare Advantage will need to change their plan when they move. The alternative is to return to Original Medicare only.
Check to see if your current Part D plan is transferable to your new state. If it is, your next step is to find out whether there are changes in terms of cost and level of coverage. If the plan is not available in your new state, or you feel the costs are too high, you must enroll in a new Part D plan.
Special Election Period
If you have a Part C or Part D plan, and you are permanently moving outside the service area of these plans, you may make changes. 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 Part C plan to another
- One Part D plan to another
- Part C to Original Medicare
- Original Medicare to Part C
You also have the option to drop your part D plan entirely if you choose. These changes can be made while in the nursing home and for up to two months after the month you move out.
You must notify your insurer but do not necessarily need to switch companies. Medigap plans are generally standard across the U.S. For instance, Plan F should offer 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.
Switching Medicare plans does not have to be complicated. All it requires is a bit of forward planning and you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are covered in your new home. Never assume things will remain the same because there are certain instances where switching plans is unavoidable.