|Rachael Zimlich, RN, BSN|
- Medicare is a federal healthcare program, so moving from one state to another will not affect your basic benefits from original Medicare.
- Optional Medicare products, like Medicare Advantage plans, might change if you move out of state.
- If you have a plan from a private health insurance provider, contact the company before you move to prepare for any benefit changes.
Moving is a lot of work, especially if you’re making a big move from one state to another. The good news is your original Medicare coverage will stay the same, no matter what state you live in.
However, moving to a new state can impact your other optional benefits, such as a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
Below, we’ll explain when moving out of state can affect your Medicare options and benefits, plus what you need to do to prepare.
Medicare is a federal healthcare program that funds medical care for people ages 65 and over or those who have certain health conditions or disabilities.
Because it’s a federal program, Medicare provides services in every part of the country. So it doesn’t matter which state you live in — your basic Medicare coverage will stay the same.
Although your Medicare coverage won’t end or change when you move, you’ll often need to find new providers who participate in Medicare. Doctors must accept Medicare’s payment terms and meet certain requirements to participate in the program.
Regardless of where you live, participating doctors and healthcare providers will submit a bill to Medicare for the services they provide you.
Original Medicare can be used anywhere in the country. That includes all 50 states and several U.S. territories, including:
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
No matter where you live in the United States or these territories, you can receive Medicare Part A and Part B. This means your basic inpatient and outpatient care will be paid for through the original Medicare program.
Your coverage for Medicare parts A and B will not change if you move out of state. Just be sure that the doctor you choose after you move participates in the Medicare program.
To find out how to connect with a local Medicare office once you’ve moved to a new state, call 800-MEDICARE or click here.
It’s also important to change your address with the Social Security Administration, which manages Medicare. You can do this online or by calling 800-772-1213.
There are some optional plans you can purchase to add onto or even replace original Medicare.
You may choose to buy a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare Part D plan. These private insurance plans combine the services of original Medicare with extras like prescription drug coverage, dental and vision care, and more.
While original Medicare is available no matter where you live, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans are operated by private insurance companies. That means available plan options and costs will vary based on the state where you live and the companies that sell plans there.
To make sure your Medicare coverage isn’t disrupted when you move, you can take the following steps if you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan:
- Contact your current plan before your move.
- Ask if they offer plans in the state or area you’re moving to.
- Ask about any changes that might be made to your plan once you move: Will you pay an out-of-network fee? Will your premium cost more? How will you find a new doctor or pharmacy?
- Decide whether you want to keep your current plan when you move or if you need to find a new one.
- Find out from your plan whether it’s best to switch to a new plan before you move or after.
- If you need to find a new plan, start researching available options in your new location.
Medicare supplement plans, or Medigap, are optional plans you can add to original Medicare to help cover your share of medical costs.
If you have Medigap and plan to move out of state, you can keep your policy no matter where you live, as long as you remain on original Medicare and don’t switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you do decide to change your Medigap policy once you’ve moved to a new state, you may have to pay more for the new policy. These cost differences can depend on a number of factors, such as:
- your eligibility for the new policy
- the plan options you choose
- the rates in your new area of residence
Usually, when you want to sign up for a Medicare Part C, Part D, or Medigap plan, certain enrollment periods apply.
Initial enrollment for Medicare parts A and B lasts for 7 months — the 3 months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the 3 months after your birthday.
After that, there’s an open enrollment period each year, from October 15 to December 7. During this time, you can make any changes you’d like to your Medicare coverage.
From January 1 through March 31, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or go back to original Medicare.
If you miss these periods, you may be eligible to change your coverage under certain circumstances, called special enrollment periods. Moving is one of these situations. We’ll explain how these exceptions work below.
You move outside your current plan’s service area
If you move out of your current Medicare Advantage plan’s service area, you can switch to a new plan in the month before or within 2 months after you move.
If you wait until you’ve moved to notify your current plan provider, you then have the month you notify the plan plus an additional 2 months to switch to a new plan.
You move to a new area and your plan is still available, but there are new options too
If you’re moving to a new area that offers plans you couldn’t get before, notify your plan provider of your move. You’ll have the month before you move plus 2 months after you move to make a change.
If you wait to notify your plan until after you’ve moved, you’ll be able to make changes to your existing plan in the month you notify your plan plus an additional 2 months after.
Making Medigap plan changes
For Medigap plans, enrollment periods are a little different. It’s best to buy a Medigap policy during the 6-month period immediately after you first enroll in Medicare Part B.
You may be able to buy a Medigap plan after that, but there are no guarantees that an insurance company will sell you a policy.
Even if you’re able to get a Medigap policy after the initial enrollment period, you may have to pay more.
If you’re transitioning into or out of inpatient care
If you’ve been hospitalized as an inpatient and move out of state after discharge, your Medicare benefits won’t be disrupted.
Hospitalization and inpatient care are covered under Medicare Part A, which is part of original Medicare and required to be a part of every Medicare Advantage plan.
While you may still need to switch your Medicare Advantage plan once you move, your Medicare Part A benefits will be covered either way.
If you move from one state to another and you have original Medicare, your benefits won’t change. However, you may need to find new healthcare providers who participate in Medicare.
If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan, you may need to find a new plan. This will depend on whether your plan is available in your new location.
If your plan isn’t offered in your new home state, you should be able to sign up for a new plan without penalty through a special enrollment period.
Medigap benefits don’t change from state to state. You can keep your Medigap plan as long as you continue using original Medicare instead of a Medicare Advantage plan.