How to Stay Covered Under Medicare When You Move

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Moving is exciting and nerve-racking, at the same time. There's a lot to consider and plan for. And what will happen to your Medicare coverage may be the last thing on your mind.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, your coverage may change when you move out of your plan's service area. Here's how to make sure you're covered in your new residency.

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Check your plan's service area

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you'll want to call your plan to see if you're moving out of your plan's service area. If you are, you'll need to switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan that offers coverage in your new residency. The good news is that you don't have to wait for the Annual Enrollment Period to sign up for a new plan. Because you're moving, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

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Understand your SEP timeline

If you tell your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan before you move, your SEP (your chance to switch plans) will begin the month before the month you move and will continue for two full months after you move. If you tell your plan after you move, your SEP begins the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months.

Even if your new address is still in your plan's service area, you might have different plan options in your new location. So you might decide you want to switch your plan. If you decide to switch, the above SEP timeline applies.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and you move outside your plan's service area, you can also choose to return to Original Medicare. If you don't enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan during your SEP, you'll be enrolled in Original Medicare when you're disenrolled from your old Medicare Advantage plan.

Your coverage stays the same when you move out of state if you have Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and you're moving within the United States (including the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). You'll just want to let your current doctors know you're moving, so you can arrange for your medical records to be transferred to your new doctors.

If you have Original Medicare plus a Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan or plans, your coverage will also likely stay the same in your new state. This is because most Medigap plans do not have specific provider networks. All Medigap plans are different, though, so it's important to still call your plan to find out your specific coverage.

Rachel Quetti is a health care writer at Aetna with experience in senior wellness, Medicare, commercial health care, and consumer engagement. When Rachel isn't trying out new fitness classes, she is cooking up fun, (mostly) healthy recipes in the kitchen. Rachel lives in Watertown, Massachusetts and has a degree in journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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