By Elizabeth Davis, RN. Health Insurance Expert
As a Registered Nurse and freelance medical writer, Elizabeth has been helping people navigate the complexities of their health insurance and the healthcare system for more than 25 years.
Updated August 20, 2015.
The Type of Medicare You Have Dictates What You Need to Do
As a general rule, plans that require you to use a specific network of service providers and plans that differ from area to area will need to be changed if you’re moving out of the plan’s service area. Plans that don’t require you to use in-network providers might not need to be changed. However, the rules about whether or not you’re allowed to change plans, and if so, the timeframe in which you’re allowed to change the plan, are complicated.
Plans that are the same throughout the United States:
Plans that vary from area to area or that may require you to use an in-network provider:
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If you have a Medicare Part D plan, a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Medigap Medicare Select plan, you need to determine if your new address is still within that plan’s service area. If it isn’t, you may need to choose a new plan that serves residents of your new area.
Medicare Advantage & Medicare Part D
If you move out of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area or Medicare Part D plan’s service area, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan that provides coverage in your new area. You can make this switch the month you move and up to two months after you move if you notify your current plan before you move. If you wait until after you move to tell your current plan about your change of address, you can switch plans that month and during the next two full months.
If you relocate out of your Medicare Advantage plan's service area and fail to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan in your new area, you'll automatically be switched back to Original Medicare. This will happen when your old Medicare Advantage plan is forced to disenroll you because you don't live within its service area anymore.
Moving Into or Out of a Nursing Home
If you’re moving into or out of a nursing home, the rules are a little bit different. You can switch from one Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan to another. You can switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
Parts A and B, or switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage. You can drop your Medicare Part D plan altogether. You can make these changes while you’re in the nursing home, and for up to two months after the month you move out of the nursing home.
Medigap and Relocating
You need to notify the insurance company that provides your Medigap supplemental health plan that you’re moving, but you might not need to change Medigap insurance companies. Medigap plans are usually standardized across the country; for example, Medigap Plan F offers the same coverage in one state as it does in another state. So, you may be able to keep the same Medigap plan and insurance company despite your change of address. However, if medical care is more expensive in the area you’re moving to than it is in the area you’re moving away from, your Medigap insurance company might be allowed to increase your Medigap policy’s monthly premium.
If your Medigap policy is a Medicare Select plan, one that requires you to use a specific network of healthcare providers, the rules are a little bit different. If you move out of the Medicare Select plan’s service area, you have the right to switch to another Medigap policy if you want to. The time you’re allowed to switch plans is limited, though, so check with the insurance company that provides your Medicare Select policy to make sure you understand the details and follow all of the rules.
You need to notify the Social Security Administration of your new address no matter what type of Medicare you have.
If you won’t be able to keep your doctor, you need to choose a new doctor in your new area. Your new primary care doctor may be able to recommend new specialists, if needed.
If you change doctors, arrange to have your medical records transferred to the new doctor. Better yet, get copies from your current doctor, and hand deliver them to your new doctor.
If need more information, Medicare’s help line is 1-800-MEDICARE. Or, you can contact a counselor from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program in the area you’re moving to or moving from.
About.com has an entire site dedicated to moving. You'll find information and ideas to help you plan your move and to make moving easier. Check it out at http://moving.about.com/ .
Visit About.com's Medicare & Medicaid site for exhaustive, in-depth information about Medicare and how to get the most from your Medicare coverage.