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How do I change my health insurance when moving out of state?

To sum it up...
  • The type of plan will determine if it can be used elsewhere
  • Some plans cannot be transferred
  • Do not wait until the last minute to research your healthcare options
  • Original Medicare can be transferred, but Medicare Advantage Plans cannot

If you are moving to another state or even another area within your state, there are several steps that you must take in order to ensure you have proper health insurance. You may be curious, for example, whether your existing insurance will follow you to your new location.

A company-provided plan usually cannot be moved. An indemnity plan where the customer purchases the policy directly from an insurance carrier can often be moved. Medicare can be moved, but the Medicare Advantage Plans and other HMO plans cannot be moved.

Therefore, it is necessary to find out what you can do in your particular situation and most importantly do not make any assumptions. Ask a lot of questions of your insurance carrier and get the facts. The criteria regarding moves will differ for the various types of insurance plans.

Enter your zip code before you go and find out what healthcare plans cost in your new state!

Examining Moving Criteria for Different Plans

The most important step is to talk to your insurance provider to determine whether coverage continues if you move. However, keep in mind that there are a lot of variations on this subject.

Private Insurance

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If you have an individual or family policy from an insurance carrier, the first step is to check with your insurance agent. There are questions you need to ask, including:

  • Can you transfer your coverage to another state?
  • Does your insurance company have an agreement with companies in other states for transferring policies?
  • If your policy cannot be transferred, can you purchase a new policy for the area where you are relocating to before the actual move?
  • Will your college-age children be covered if they are in another state?

In the past when changing health policies, a person could be denied coverage for pre-existing health conditions. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, this is no longer true. A person cannot be turned down for prior health conditions. This makes finding an insurance plan in another state easier than it was in the past.

Group Coverage

If you work within a company that provides a group policy to its employees and families, and that company transfers you to another state, the insurance transition will be relatively simple. However, if you are laid off or decide to quit and move to another location, the situation can be more difficult. Consider following these steps.

  • Seek coverage from your employer through COBA (Coordination of Benefits Act). You may be required to pay the entire premium, but you will be able to continue your coverage and have time to find a plan that works for you.
  • Consider buying Gap Insurance, which is a short-term policy that provides coverage for a limited period of time, but does allow enough time to find new coverage.
  • There is also the possibility of getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The main caveat is that you had credible insurance before you left you moved. If that policy is not transferable, you can apply for an ACA policy during a Special Enrollment Period.
  • If you had no insurance, then the Special Enrollment Period option will not be available/

Medicare

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There are many variations of Medicare, including Parts A, B, and D.

  • Part A is hospital coverage or original Medicare.
  • Part B covers doctor payments and other related items.
  • Part D is a separate policy that will provide prescription-drug coverage. Medicare can be used anywhere.
  • Doctors are not required to accept Medicare, but many do. Medicare fees vary among different areas of the country, but it will be easy to use.

Medicare Advantage Plans

The Medicare Advantage plans are designed to operate on a regional basis in that you have to live in that particular area and use doctors and hospitals that are part of the plan’s network. Features of the Medicare Advantage Plans include:

  • Combines parts A, B, and D into one package. This is usually less expensive than having Medicare and purchasing separate supplemental policies and prescription plans.
  • The plans are not transferable. Therefore, if moving to another area within your state or to another state, you will not be able to take the plan with you. However, a special enrollment option would be available, allowing you to select a plan that services that area.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans offer some additional coverage that is not covered by Medicare, such as $50 to $100 for eyeglasses, routine dental work and hearing aids. The plans also provide other wellness features and discounts for certain over the counter items.

Things to Do

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When moving, do not assume your current insurance will be available in another state. Before moving you should:

  • Determine if your individual or family policy is available in another state and if not, is there any alliance between your current provider and those in another state that can assure continuous coverage.
  • Find out if your employee-provided coverage is going to be available at the new out-of-state job. Sometimes companies have subsidiaries, and all the benefits do not transfer.
  • Consider the possibility of buying short-term insurance. This will be useful for emergency situations but is not intended for long-term use.
  • You are receiving health care through a Medicare Advantage Plan, find out if you will qualify for a special enrollment period in the new location, where you will be able to choose a replacement plan.

Conclusion

Changing insurance carriers may seem like a daunting challenge. However, it can be relatively easy if you start researching as soon as you know when you are going to move. Do not wait until after the move before addressing the insurance issue.

Talk to your current employer, your new employer, and your insurance provider. Ask questions and insist on clear answers. What may appear to be a routine health issue could turn into something much more serious.

Compare the best health insurance companies in your state by entering your new zip below!

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