Sometimes life happens. Maybe you got a new job, or you’re retiring, or you wish to be closer to your family. No matter why, if you’re moving and have Medicare coverage, you may qualify for a unique Special Enrollment Period when you can make some changes.
Does Medicare travel with you?
Yes and no. Medicare Part A and Part B will always travel with you. But for Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and Part D prescription drug plans, you may lose your existing plan and need to enroll in a new one. You do have some options here though.
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans when you move
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans have geographic boundaries. Depending on where you move impacts what happens to your Medicare coverage and what you can do as a result.
If you move to a new city that is within your plan’s network, you can:
- Keep your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan
- Enroll in or change to a different Medicare Advantage or Part D plan
- Drop your existing Medicare Advantage plan and return to only Original Medicare (In this case, make sure you also enroll in a Part D plan to keep prescription drug coverage.)
If you move to a new city that is outside of your plan’s network, you will lose your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. In this case, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you either have to enroll in a new plan or opt to return to Original Medicare and also enroll in a Part D plan. In this situation you have the following options:
- Enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan
- Enroll in a new Part D plan
- Drop your Medicare Advantage coverage and return to Original Medicare when you move
How to enroll in a new Medicare plan
To make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan, you’ll need to find out what your plan options are in your new area. You can get information about available plans here. You can also learn about specific plans by calling the customer service number at the private company that offers it.
If you are dual-eligible and qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, you will need to contact the state you will live in to find out your Medicaid benefit options. And, if you are interested in a dual eligible special needs plan, which is a plan that combines the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as often including additional benefits such as dental or vision care. You’ll need to contact the private plan provider for information and availability of dual plans.
Enrolling during a Special Enrollment Period
When you move, or experience another type of qualifying life event, you will get a two-month Special Enrollment Period (SEP)1. This kind of Special Enrollment Period allows you to join, change or drop a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan.
When does your Special Enrollment Period begin?
According to Medicare, your SEP will begin depending on when you notify your plan provider of your move.
If you notify your plan provider before you move, your SEP begins the month before you move and lasts up to two full months after you move.
If you notify your plan provider after you move, your SEP to switch to another Medicare Advantage or Part D plan begins the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months thereafter.
You may choose to begin coverage any time between the first day of the month you moved (as long as you have submitted a competed application), and up to three months after your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan receives the completed enrollment application.1
Contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) if you need additional help in finding a Medicare plan or if you have general Medicare questions.
If you’re planning to move in the near future, it’s a good idea to sort out your Medicare coverage as soon as possible and learn about all your available options for your new location.
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