If you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy and are moving, one key question is whether you need to also switch to a new Medigap plan. The good news is that in most cases, you can keep your same Medicare Supplement coverage when relocating. However, there are some important factors to consider regarding your Medigap plan when moving.
Can I Keep My Current Medicare Supplement Policy If I Move?
The simplest scenario is that you can keep your existing Medigap policy no matter where in the United States you move, as long as:
- You continue having Original Medicare as your primary coverage.
- You continue paying your Medigap premiums.
- The insurance company still offers that plan in your new location.
Medigap plans are standardized across the country, so the coverage will be the same in a new state. Your insurer cannot cancel your policy solely because you moved.
As long as those conditions are met, you can keep the same plan and provider. There is no federal requirement to switch just because you relocated.
When Might I Need or Want To Switch Medigap Plans?
While you aren’t federally required to change Medigap plans when moving, there are some cases where you may need or want to switch:
Your current insurer doesn’t offer plans in your new location:
- If your insurance company only operates in certain states and doesn’t offer plans where you’re moving, you’ll have to switch to a new company.
You move out of the plan’s service area:
- Medigap policies have defined regional service areas. If you move somewhere no longer in that region, the insurer can terminate your coverage and you’ll have to switch plans.
You want to reduce costs:
- Medigap premiums can vary significantly by insurer and location. Shopping around for a new plan may allow you to find cheaper coverage options.
You want to change your benefits:
- You may decide to upgrade or downgrade your Medigap benefits when moving to better meet your needs in the new location.
You have issues with your current insurer:
- Problems like poor customer service or claims denials may motivate you to look for a new insurance provider.
So while you can keep your existing Medigap plan when moving, there are valid reasons you may want or need to switch instead.
When Can I Switch Medigap Plans?
If you do want to switch Medigap policies when moving, your options depend on whether you are still within your open enrollment period or are eligible for guaranteed issue rights:
During Medigap Open Enrollment Period
- This 6-month period when you first enroll in Medicare Part B allows you to shop freely and switch Medigap plans without underwriting.
Outside of Open Enrollment With Guaranteed Issue Rights
- These special rights allow certain enrollees to purchase a new Medigap plan without medical underwriting. Moving out of the plan’s service area is one qualifying event.
Outside Open Enrollment Without Guaranteed Issue Rights
- You can still switch plans, but the new insurer can subject you to medical underwriting, exclude pre-existing conditions, and charge you higher premiums.
To have the most flexibility in switching Medigap plans when moving, do so during your open enrollment window if possible.
How Do I Switch Medigap Plans When Moving?
If you decide to change your Medicare Supplement insurance provider when relocating, follow this process:
Research new options: Review Medigap plans offered, pricing, benefits, and insurance company reputations in your new location. Consider what plan type makes the most sense for your needs.
Apply to new insurer: During open enrollment or when you have guaranteed issue rights, you can apply for the new Medigap plan so coverage starts when your move is complete.
Provide proof of eligibility: Furnish information like your Medicare card, current Medigap policy details, and relocation records to confirm your right to enroll.
Cancel old plan once new coverage begins: To avoid double premium costs, wait until your new Medigap policy takes effect before terminating your existing coverage.
Pay first new premium: Send your first premium payment to activate the new policy. Review documents to ensure benefits match what you selected.
Notify doctors, pharmacies, etc. of new details: Update your providers with your new Medigap membership information so your claims process correctly.
Following this process helps avoid gaps in supplemental coverage when transitioning policies during relocation.
Key Factors When Switching Medigap Plans
If you do decide to switch Medicare Supplement plans, be aware of impacts on costs, coverage, and limitations:
Pre-existing conditions may not be covered for up to 6 months – Expenses related to pre-existing medical issues may be excluded for up to 180 days when you switch Medigap plans outside open enrollment.
You may pay more – Insurers can base premiums on your age and health if switching outside open enrollment, potentially increasing costs.
Benefits may change – Make sure to compare both covered services and exclusions between your old and new Medigap plans.
Provider networks may differ – Some Medigap plans have preferred provider networks that impact costs. Check if your doctors are in-network.
Drug lists may not match – If your Medigap plan includes prescription drug coverage, the specific medications covered likely vary between insurers.
Timing matters – Special rules apply for when you apply for a new Medigap plan to avoid gaps in coverage.
Carefully weighing these factors will lead to making the optimal Medigap plan choice when moving.
Alternatives to Switching Medigap Plans When Moving
Switching your Medigap plan when relocating across the country or down the street isn’t your only option. Here are a few other possibilities to consider:
Keep your existing plan: As mentioned above, you can simply retain your current Medicare Supplement coverage when moving in most cases. This avoids hassles of changing plans.
Suspend plan temporarily: You may be able to temporarily suspend (instead of fully cancelling) your current Medigap coverage for a short period around your move if relocating back to your original location.
Buy second plan for dual residency: If you’ll live part of the year in your new location and part in your original home, you may be able to enroll in a separate Medigap plan in the new area and switch between them.
Switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan: These plans offer an alternate way to supplement Original Medicare, though provider networks are restricted. You can enroll when first eligible for Medicare or during Annual Enrollment Periods.
Talk to your insurance agent or broker about the pros and cons of these alternatives to completely switching your Medigap insurer when moving.
Key Steps to Take With Your Medigap Plan When Relocating
If you decide to keep your current Medigap plan or make a change when moving, be sure to take these key actions to avoid coverage disruptions:
Notify your Medigap insurer of your relocation at least 30 days beforehand so they can update your records. Provide your new residential address and request a new member ID card.
Confirm your new location still falls within the plan’s service area and that the insurer offers coverage there. Get any exclusions like out-of-network restrictions in writing.
Review your options to switch plans during open enrollment or if you have guaranteed issue rights.
If switching plans, carefully follow the proper enrollment process including submitting proof of eligibility.
Never cancel your existing Medigap policy until new coverage is in force so you avoid gaps between plans.
Pay your new premium promptly once enrolled and check documents to verify you have the correct Medigap plan.
Update all of your healthcare providers with your new Medicare Supplement policy information so claims process accurately.
With the right preparation and understanding your choices, you can make a smooth transition and maintain valuable Medigap insurance coverage when moving to a new home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medigap Plans When Moving
Here are answers to some common questions about how relocating impacts your Medicare Supplement insurance coverage:
Do I have to switch Medigap plans if I temporarily relocate?
If you plan to live outside your home state for less than 6 months, you typically do not need to change your Medigap plan and can keep your same coverage.
When should I notify my Medigap insurer that I’m moving?
It’s recommended to inform your Medigap insurance company about an upcoming move at least 30 days in advance. This ensures they can process the address change before you relocate.
Can I get a Medigap plan in a different state?
Yes, Medigap plans are standardized across all states. You can enroll in any plan while living anywhere in the U.S. as long as the insurer offers coverage in your new location.
Is my Medigap coverage nationwide?
Medigap coverage extends nationwide as
DO I NEED TO CHANGE MY MEDICARE PLAN IF I MOVE?
Can I keep my Medicare Supplement if I move?
Can I use my Medicare Supplement in another state?
Which states allow you to change Medicare Supplement plans without underwriting?
Do I need to notify Medicare if I move?