Can moving in your golden years affect Medicare coverage?

Medicare operates with a certain level of complexity. Key among these is the concept of Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs), which give seniors the flexibility to tweak their Medicare coverage outside the usual enrollment times. That comes in handy with the many twists and turns in life that can affect your healthcare coverage. 

Events that can trigger a Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) include:

  • the start or end of a marriage
  • losing employer-sponsored coverage
  • becoming eligible due to a disability
  • losing drug coverage without any fault of your own
  • experiencing a drop in household income
  • moving into or out of a skilled nursing facility
  • or becoming eligible for other assistance programs

What to know about Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) in regard to relocation

The most common reason to seek out a Medicare Special Enrollment Period is relocation — this is particularly true when a retiree might downsize and move somewhere that’s less expensive and easier to maintain. 

Switching homes, especially as we get older, is a big deal. It usually means we’re starting a new phase in life. For seniors, the comfort of home, community, and reliable healthcare becomes super important. 

When we’re taking on a move, it’s good to know how this change can mess with our Medicare coverage and what we can do to make the move easier. Generally, Medicare coverage is portable within the United States — with some variables — so relocating shouldn’t pose a major issue with your healthcare. 

If moving within the same state, Medicare changes might be subtle — perhaps a shift in local healthcare providers. However, crossing state lines introduces a number of other considerations, from different healthcare providers to new Medicare plan options.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Original Medicare Coverage (Part A and Part B): The good news is that Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B work nationwide. So, when you pack up and move, your Medicare coverage doesn’t get left behind. Just remember to give Medicare your new address so they can keep sending you important information about your coverage.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C): If you’ve enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), there’s a catch: Medicare Advantage plans can be a bit picky about locations. You might have to trade in your current plan for a new one that’s available in your new location. 
  • Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D): Like a favorite corner drugstore, your Part D prescription drug plan might be all you need where you live right now, but it might not have a branch in the ZIP code you’re moving to. You’ll want to check out the local options and adjust your Part D coverage accordingly so you can keep getting your prescriptions without any hiccups.
  • Medigap Policies: Your Medigap policy is designed to catch any healthcare-related expenses that might slip through the cracks of your regular Medicare coverage. Not all plans are available everywhere, so you might need to replace your policy with a local version available in your new surroundings.

12 Special Enrollment Period tips to keep top of mind when moving with Medicare

Understanding the specific rules and timelines involved can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage when moving. Whether it’s adjusting existing plans, adding supplementary coverage, or exploring the advantages of Medicare Advantage, understanding timelines should be first and foremost. 

These 12 tips can help you get organized around moving with Medicare.

  1. Notify Medicare ASAP: As soon as you know about your upcoming move, inform Medicare of your address change. This helps ensure a smooth transition and avoids gaps in coverage.
  2. Understand Your SEPs: Familiarize yourself with the events that trigger a Special Enrollment Period — moving is just one of them. Knowing your SEPs helps you make timely adjustments to your Medicare coverage.
  3. Check Local Healthcare Providers: If you’re moving to a new area, research the healthcare offerings in your new neighborhood. Ensure that your preferred doctors and hospitals are within reach and covered by your Medicare plan. Of course, if you’re moving far, you’ll want to research new doctors and facilities.
  4. Review Medicare Advantage Plans: If you have Medicare Advantage (Part C), check if it’s available in your new location. If not, explore other plans that cover the services you need.
  5. Evaluate Prescription Drug Coverage: Confirm that your Part D drug plan covers pharmacies in your new area. Adjust your plan if necessary to avoid disruptions in accessing your medications.
  6. Explore Medigap Options: If you have a Medigap policy, check if it’s valid in your new location. Explore Medigap plans available in the area and consider switching if needed.
  7. Be Mindful of Timelines: Understand the timelines associated with SEPs. Being aware of deadlines ensures that you can make changes to your Medicare coverage within the specified period.
  8. Take Advantage Of Available Resources: Contact Medicare counselors, insurance experts, or local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offices for personalized guidance during your move.
  9. Consider Future Healthcare Needs: As you make changes to your Medicare coverage, consider your current and future health. Will you require any specific treatment or care? Prepare a plan that aligns with your anticipated health requirements.
  10. Keep Important Documents Handy: Maintain a file with important Medicare documents, such as plan details, contact information, and a confirmation of your address change. This can be helpful during the transition and for future reference.
  11. Stay Informed About Plan Options: Keep updated on new Medicare plan options in your new location. Every now and again, review available plans to make sure your coverage continues to meet your healthcare needs.
  12. Plan for Temporary Accommodations: If your move involves temporary housing, be sure that your healthcare needs can be met during this period. If not, explore options for healthcare services in the interim location.

With these tips in mind, you can juggle the hassles of moving without any unwanted surprises in your Medicare coverage!

How and when to update your address with Medicare:

Moving to a new location is a significant life event, and it’s important to ensure that your healthcare coverage remains uninterrupted during the transition. If you’re enrolled in Medicare, informing them about your change of address is paramount. It’s best to do it as soon as possible to ensure that your records are updated and that you always have access to healthcare services.

Start with Social Security

To change your official address with Medicare, you have to contact Social Security and update the mailing address on file. Here are three ways to do this:

  • Online: Visit the Social Security website and log into your My Social Security account to update your address.
  • By Phone: Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users, dial 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7 AM to 7 PM.
  • In Person: Update your information by visiting a local Social Security office.

Embracing Change with Confidence

Remember, when we move, downsize, or face life changes, it’s important to recognize that our healthcare situation can also shift. Stay informed, take charge, and — when things feel unclear — turn to the professionals at Guided Solutions

Our insurance experts and Medicare counselors have the knowledge and experience to give you personalized insights. They can provide clear recommendations and assurance when you’re considering relocating or at any time of transition.


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