Does your Medicare or Medicare plan transfer if you move? If you plan to move states, can you take your Medicare or Medicaid plans with you? The answer depends on whether you have original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid.

Moving and Original Medicare Coverage

If you have original Medicare (Plans A and B), you can move anywhere in the country and you should still be covered. Your Medicare plan will still be valid when you move. Medicare is a federal program, run by the federal government, so it doesn’t matter what state you are in as long as your provider accepts Medicare.

Your Medigap plan should also continue to cover you in the new state, but you will need to check with your insurer. While the insurance company should continue to renew the policy as long as you continue to pay your premium, it may be able to change the premium based on your new area of residence.  The exception is if you move to Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin because those states have their own specific Medigap plans. In addition, if you have Medicare SELECT, a type of Medigap policy that allows you to use only hospitals and doctors within its network, you may have to purchase a new supplemental policy.

Moving and Medicare Advantage

Both Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medicare Advantage plans have defined service areas, which may or may not cover more than one state. If you have Part D or Medicare Advantage, you will need to determine if your new address falls within the plan’s service area. When you move to a new service area, you have a special enrollment period in which to change plans outside of the annual open enrollment period (which runs October 15th through December 7th). If you tell your current plan before you move, your special enrollment period begins the month before you move and continues for two full months after you move. If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months.

If the plan does not cover your new area, you will need to switch to another plan. You can choose to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan in your new area or to Original Medicare. If you take no steps, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare. If you do switch to Original Medicare, remember that you may also need a Medigap policy as well as prescription drug coverage to take care of coverage your Advantage plan offered.

The easiest way to switch plans is to just enroll in the new plan. Once you do this, you will be automatically disenrolled from your old plan. To find out what plans or policies are available in the area you are moving to, check the Medicare Plan Finder Web site.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program, with each state having its own eligibility rules. This means you cannot keep your Medicaid plan when you move to a new state. Medicaid eligibility depends on your income, your assets, and the level of care you need. If you have Medicaid and are planning to move, you should contact the Medicaid office in the state to which you are moving to find out the eligibility requirements in that state. Before you can apply for benefits in the new state, you need to cancel your benefits in the old state. You should file an application in the new state as soon as possible. Usually, if you qualify for benefits, the benefits will be retroactive up to three months before the date you applied. If you end up having to pay for any health care services out of pocket while you are waiting for your application to be approved, save the receipts since you may be able to get reimbursed.

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