How would moving impact my Medicare coverage?

Many people choose to move at some point in their retirement years. Whether it’s to enjoy the financial freedom the comes from downsizing, or simply to get a change of scenery, there are lots of reasons to kick off this next phase of life in a new location

If you are planning to join the ranks of these relocating retirees, you’re probably already mentally preparing yourself for the excitement, challenges, and frustrations that can come with a major move. While some surprises and setbacks are impossible to avoid, there is at least one essential yet often overlooked consideration that Renew can help you get squared away: your Medicare coverage!

While Original Medicare Parts A & B  will follow you from state to state in the United States, other coverage types like a Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Supplement plan, for example often will not. This is because those plans are sold by private companies, and the coverage provided is only valid for residents of specified service areas, such as states, counties, or even ZIP codes.

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Fortunately, because moving is one of the major life events that qualifies you for one of Medicare’s “Special Enrollment Periods,” you will have options to ensure that you will be able to enroll in new coverage, even if you can’t keep your current plan. It is important to remember that this Special Enrollment Period is only available to you for a limited time, and the actual length of time depends on when you notify your current carrier of your plans to move.

If you notify your plan prior to moving, your SEP is four months long, starting from one month prior to the relocation. Your SEP will be just three months long, starting with the month that you gave notice of the move, if you do not give your plan prior notice.

To learn more about how your coverage may be affected by an out-of-state move, continue reading. We’ve outlined the considerations you should keep in mind and the steps you’ll need to take according to the coverage type you have in mind.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan…

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that will not cover you in your new ZIP code, the plan is required to disenroll you. Depending on the length of your Special Enrollment Period, you’ll have 3-4 months to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan. If you do not enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan, then you’ll automatically revert to Original Medicare. If you decide you want to join a new Medicare Advantage plan after your Special Enrollment Period has ended, you’ll need to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period, which typically takes place from October 15th until December 7th each year.

If you have a Medicare Part D plan…

Neglecting to enroll in a new Medicare Part D plan during your Special Enrollment Period could leave you holding the bill on any of the prescription drugs you are taking, which can quickly become incredibly expensive. In addition to being on the hook for these costs out-of-pocket, you will also likely be liable for permanent late enrollment penalties if you decide to enroll in a Part D plan at a later date.

If you have a Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) plan…

If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, there is a chance that you may be able to keep that same policy in your new locale. Because Medicare Supplement plans are standardized in most states, it is possible that your current plan is offered in your new state. However, there is a chance that your premiums for the same policy could change, and you may be required to answer some questions about your health history when you notify your plan of your move.

In the case that you move to a state in which your current Supplement plan is not offered, you may be subject to medical underwriting and potentially higher premiums if you decide to apply for coverage under a new Supplement plan. In fact, outside of your 6-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, Medicare Supplement plans typically have the right to raise prices or refuse coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions or health issues.

You can learn more about the various Supplement plans available in the following article.

One exception to be aware of…

While most Medicare Supplement plan types allow you to cover services from any provider who accepts Medicare assignment, there is one exception: Medicare Select plans. Under a Medicare Select plan, you may receive coverage only for services from providers included in that particular plan’s network. If you are currently on a Medicare Select plan and are planning to move out of its service area but still want comparable coverage, you have two main options for moving forward.

  1. You can sign up for a standardized Medigap policy from your current carrier which includes the same (or fewer) benefits as your current Medicare Select policy.
  2. You can sign up to buy one of the other Medigap policies (A, B, C, F, K, or L) available in your area.

Still have questions?

If you’d like some one-on-one guidance for coordinating your Medicare coverage strategy before a major move, Renew would be happy to help. Give us a call at 1-888-874-2197 anytime between 9am-5pm PT, Monday through Friday.

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Read our quick-start guide for help, including which questions you should be asking as you approach retirement.

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