Medicare & Moving: What You Need To Know

Be sure to add ‘Review My Medicare Plan’ to your moving checklist. Relocating from one state to another, within the state, or from a home into a senior living community are just a few of the times that trigger opportunities to update your Medicare coverage and make sure your needs are being met. Whether a change is appropriate or necessary depends on the type of Medicare plan you currently have and how satisfied you are with it. Keep in mind there are windows of time in which you must make certain changes.

If you have Original Medicare Parts A & B it covers any doctor, hospital, lab, or other medical services that accept Medicare, anywhere in the USA. So in this case you don’t have to make a switch. Just let Social Security know of your new address. But, if you want to add a Medicare Supplement now is the time. Medicare Supplements (aka Medigap Plans) cover some or all of the co-pays and deductibles you are responsible for with Original Medicare.

Most states will let you apply for a Medicare Supplement without medical underwriting within a certain time around a move from another state. If you miss this opportunity, you may not be able to get a supplement in the future if your health conditions don’t meet the underwriting requirements.

If you currently have  a Medicare Supplement plan in most states you can keep your plan when you move to another state. If you’d prefer to switch to a different Medicare Supplement Plan, or the rates for the same plan are lower in your new state, you may have the right to make a change without underwriting.

Important: If you have a certain type of plan called Medicare Supplement Select you’ll need to change to a plan in your new area. But, you don’t have to keep the Select plan type so it’s a good opportunity to review your choices. If you are moving to or from Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin you may have to apply for a new plan in your new state.

If you have a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan you may need to switch to a plan in your new area. Also, you have the right to change plans so if the one you have no longer meets your needs, take advantage of the opportunity to switch. Your time frame for enrolling in a new plan depends on when you notify the plan you’re switching from. You have three months either starting the month before you move and continuing for two months after, or if you told the plan after your move, you can enroll in a new plan during the same month that you moved, or up to two months after that move.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan it is especially important to plan ahead for a smooth transition to a Medicare plan in your new area. Unlike Original Medicare, most Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans are designed around networks  of doctors and hospitals in your home area so doctors in your new location may not be covered.  You’ll want to be set up with your new insurance as soon after your move as possible. You have the option to:

  • switch to a Medicare Advantage plan in your new home area,
  • go onto Original Medicare and a Part D Drug plan
  • add a Medicare Supplement to Original Medicare without underwriting (in most states).

If you take no action Medicare will automatically switch you over to Original Medicare within two months. You have the same time frame to switch plans as stated above for Part D prescription drug plans. If you wait too long, you will have to wait until the next annual enrollment period to pick another Advantage plan and, if you’re staying with Original Medicare, you may miss that opportunity to get a Medical Supplement without underwriting.

Moving Into or Out of A Skilled Care Residence

If you’re moving into or out of a skilled nursing home you can make a switch to a plan that better suits your needs. In fact, while you are in a skilled care residence you can switch plans as often as you need to. This applies to both the Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. You can also switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare if you choose.

State Assistance Programs

I you’re receiving Medicaid or other state-based assistance such as a Pharmaceutical Assistance Program a good place to start is to contact the State Health Assistance Program (SHIP) in the state you’re moving to for guidance.

We have covered many of the important points about Medicare and Moving. For more information contact Claire Teller, 888-855-5700 or [email protected].