Moving can be an exciting but chaotic time. Amidst all the packing, signing paperwork, and meeting your new neighbors, checking on your Medicare coverage may be the last thing on your mind. But it’s important to make sure you continue to enjoy good healthcare coverage in your new location. Moving is a great opportunity to get new benefits or better costs under a new Medicare plan. Here’s what you need to know about enrolling in a new plan to avoid fees or lapses in coverage.
What qualifies as “moving” with Medicare?
Any time you have a change of address, you will need to check your Medicare coverage. Medicare plans are specific to geographic areas, often by county or zip code. If you move outside of your plan’s area, you’ll need to enroll in a new plan. For Medicare, any move to another state will change your coverage options.
- You recently moved to a new address that is no longer in your plan’s service area: Whether you are moving to a new zip code or a new state, it’s a good idea to check in with your Medicare agent to see how your plan will change when you move. You may be pleasantly surprised by potential new benefits or areas of coverage that your current plan doesn’t offer.
- You moved into or out of a long-term care facility: If you move in or out of a nursing facility, long-term care hospital, or other long-term care facility you can make changes to your Medicare plan up to 2 months after moving out of the facility or anytime during your stay.
- You moved back to the U.S. after living outside of the country: If you were living outside the United States when you turned 65, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period when you return. If you are interested in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will need to enroll in Original Medicare (parts A and B) first.
- You were released from incarceration: Medicare part A benefits don’t go anywhere during incarceration, but to stay enrolled in Medicare while incarcerated you need to continue paying Part B premiums. If you become unenrolled during incarceration, you can re-enroll with a Special Enrollment Period upon release.
Are you required to change your Medicare plan if you move?
Original Medicare will be valid wherever you move within the United States as long as you are paying your Part B premium. If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan and decide to move out of your coverage area, you will need to enroll in a new plan.
Speaking with a licensed insurance agent before you move can help you determine whether you will be moving out of your plan’s coverage area. It’s important to note that even if your current plan is still covered in your new location, new plans with better benefits may become available to you once you move.
During your Special Enrollment Period, you can choose to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or drop a Medicare Advantage plan and move to Original Medicare. If you don’t switch plans and you move to an area not included in your coverage, you will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare.
When does your enrollment period start and how long does it last?
Enrollment in Medicare plans is limited to specific time windows. Outside of those established enrollment periods, changing plans can typically only happen as a result of specific circumstances that allow for Special Enrollment Periods. Moving is one of the special circumstances that qualifies you to take advantage of a Medicare Special Enrollment Period.
The Medicare Special Enrollment Period for moving is typically about three months long. It begins the month you move or the month you tell your plan that you’ve moved and continues for two full months after that.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’re not necessarily required to notify Medicare if you move. However, you will want to update your address in your Medicare profile so that you receive any mail at your new address. If you are enrolled in the private Medicare plan, like a Part C, Part D, or Medicare Supplement Plan, you do need to notify your insurance carrier if you move. The plan you are enrolled in may not be offered at your new address.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs each year from October 15 to December 7. What is the Annual Enrollment Period vs. Open Enrollment Period?
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your Initial Enrollment Period generally surrounds your 65th birthday but may occur if you otherwise become eligible for Medicare for the first time.
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Last Updated: October 13, 2023