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Tuesday October 26, 2021

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How a Move May Affect Medicare Coverage

My husband and I are moving to a different area of the country to be near our daughter. Will this affect our Medicare benefits? Will we need to adjust our coverage or re-enroll in a new plan?

Moving can affect your Medicare benefits. It will depend on the type of coverage you have and where you move.

If you and your husband are enrolled in "original Medicare" Part A and Part B, you will be happy to know that you will not need to change your plans when you move because they are the same throughout the United States. However, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration of your change of address. You can do this at SSA.gov/myaccount/ or by calling 800-772-1213.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Part C Advantage plan and you move out of your plan's service area, you will need to choose a plan that serves your new area. Depending on the type of coverage you have, you may need to take additional steps when you move.

Medicare Part D Plan: If you are enrolled in original Medicare and have a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you will need to contact your plan administrator to find out if you have coverage in the area where you are moving. If you do not, you will need to enroll in a new plan that provides coverage in your new location.

Typically, you can make this switch the month before you move and up to two months after the move. Otherwise, you will need to wait until the next open enrollment held during the fall. You could be penalized for not having acceptable prescription drug coverage. To shop for new Part D prescription drug plans in your new location, see Medicare.gov/plan-compare.

Medicare Advantage Plan: If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, contact your plan to find out if it will serve your new area. If it does not, you will need to enroll in a new plan that does.

You can switch Advantage plans the month before you move and up to two months after you move. Be aware that if you relocate out of your Medicare Advantage plan's service area and fail to enroll in a new plan in your new area, you will automatically be switched to original Medicare. This will happen when your old Medicare Advantage plan is forced to disenroll you because you do not live within its service area anymore. To shop for new Advantage plans in your new location, see Medicare.gov/plan-compare.

Medigap Policy: If you are enrolled in original Medicare and have a supplemental Medigap policy, you will need to notify your provider that you are moving, but you should not need to change insurance companies or plans. There also are Medicare Select plans, which are Medigap plans that are network-based and are available in a few states. These plans may require you to change.

Medigap plans are standardized across the country. For example, Medigap Plan F offers the same coverage in one state as it does in another state. Take note that Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have waivers from the federal government allowing them to standardize Medigap plans differently, so plan designs are different in those three states.

You should be aware that Medigap costs vary by location, so your monthly Medigap policy premium may be higher or lower depending on the cost of medical care in your new area. Call your plan provider and tell them your new ZIP code and they will let you know the new cost.

Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised that the cost is lower. If it is not, you could look for a cheaper policy. However, you may have to undergo medical underwriting. Medigap policies come with their own rules for enrolling, and some states have different enrollment standards than others.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published September 3, 2021
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