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 and challenges 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: how moving could impact your Medicare coverage!
How moving could impact 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. As such, the coverage provided is only valid for residents of specified service areas. These service areas can be as wide as entire states, or can be as narrow as specific ZIP codes.
Fortunately, moving is one of the life events that qualifies you for one of Medicare’s “Special Enrollment Periods.” This means 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. The actual length of your SEP 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. However, if you did not give your plan prior notice, your SEP will be just three months long. In either case, the timer starts when your plan is notified of your move.
To learn more about how your coverage may be affected by an out-of-state move, continue reading. We’ve outlined some important considerations you should keep in mind. Additionally, we’ve listed 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 SEP, 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 want to enroll in a new plan, be mindful of the actual length of your SEP. After it has ended, you’ll need to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period to enroll. This period 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 SEP could leave you holding the bill for your prescription drugs. Of course, this can quickly become incredibly expensive. In addition to being on the hook for these costs, you will also 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, you may be able to keep that same policy in your new locale. Medicare Supplement plans are standardized in most states. Therefore, you may be able to keep your current plan in your new state. However, there is a chance that your premiums for the same policy could change. In the case that you move to a state in which your current Supplement plan is not offered, you may be subject tomedical underwriting.
This could translate to 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…
Most Medicare Supplement plan types allow you to cover services from any provider who accepts Medicare assignment. However, 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 but still want comparable coverage in your new area, you have two main options for moving forward.
- 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.
- You can sign up to buy one of the other Medigap policies (A, B, C, F, K, or L) available in your area.
Want to discuss your options with a licensed Medicare agent?
If you’d like some one-on-one guidance for coordinating your Medicare coverage strategy before a major move, Renew can help. Use our Medicare Checkup tool to identify if you qualify for a SEP. If you qualify, you’ll be eligible for a free Medicare consultation with one of our licensed agents.