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Moving On: Can you take your Medicare Plan with you if you relocate?

2020 has been a year of upheaval – coronavirus, job loss, murder hornets, hurricanes, fires, and crazy politics to name a few. For these reasons and more, some seniors are looking to make a move.

Some clients have come to me recently and asked a few pertinent questions:

“What happens if I move? Will my [Medicare] plan work in [other state]?”

The answer depends on what type of plan you have – Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.

Medicare Advantage plans are generally tied to a specific network and county/region. If you move out of that area, what happens? Well, the onus is on you to notify your plan that you’ve moved out of the coverage area. Naturally, you will want to terminate that coverage. This will create a Special Enrollment Period in which you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan available in your new hometown. Alternatively, you can choose from certain Medicare Supplement Plans with guaranteed issue – no health questions. This right to switch to a Medicare Supplement plan is covered by Federal law.

On the other hand, if you started with a Medicare Supplement plan, you don’t necessarily need to do anything. After all, one of the reasons you probably got a Medicare Supplement, (we call them “Med Supps” in the industry) is because you can use them anywhere in the country. There are no networks and state lines don’t matter. That being said, moving may be a good time to shop for a different Med Supp because pricing varies by area. If you’re healthy or have a right to guaranteed issue after the move, this can be easy to do and may save you some dough. You will also want to look at your Part D plan to make sure that pharmacies in your new hometown are covered.

Now, if you’re thinking bigger – say, moving to another country, none of the above would apply to you. You’ll be able to keep Original Medicare (Parts A & B), but don’t expect Medicare to pick up the tab for a knee replacement surgery in Italy or a MRI in Mexico. With few exceptions, Medicare will send the bill right back to you. One reason you may want to keep Original Medicare is if you believe that you may return to the U.S. to receive medical care.

Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans are both geographically tied to the United States, so unfortunately, they can’t move with you. You’ll be best served by talking to an insurance agent in your new country of residence to obtain health insurance.

Depending on when and where you’re moving, there can be a lot of moving parts, (pun partially intended.) Medicare.gov is a great resource on all things Medicare. A knowledgeable, trustworthy agent can also help pave the way for you. Just make sure you do your due diligence before the movers arrive.

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