Senior Life Matters

Question: I am preparing to move, I have Medicare and want to know if I need to change my insurance coverage when I move?

Question: I am preparing to move, I have Medicare and want to know if I need to change my insurance coverage when I move?

Answer: This question has many different answers depending on the answer to some follow-up questions. Let me begin to addressing this question in different ways. The moving experience will be a significant change in your life and how far you move makes a big difference regarding your original question. If you are staying in the county you currently live in, you do not need to make any changes besides your mailing address. If you are moving to another county or state, there are a couple of scenarios I can work through.

If you have Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement, your Medicare Supplement does not have to change, but can change it if you wish. Contact your Supplement Insurance Plan, give them the new address, and review the new costs associated with that same policy at your new location. If you are staying in the same geographic area in your new home, your premium may not even change. However, if you move to another part of the state or another state all together the premium you pay may change significantly. If the premium increases significantly, simply change your mailing address and keep the same coverage, same company and that current premium.

Your Prescription Drug coverage will need to change if you have moved to a different county or state as well. Your Medicare Part D Plan may not need to change, but you need to take some action. Most plans are national plans which mean you can stay in the plan, but the premium you pay each month may change. If you move within New York State, you only need to notify them of the new address. If you move outside the state, you can stay in that plan and pay the new premium, or you can take this opportunity to switch to a different plan. For you the moving becomes a “Special Enrollment Period” (SEP), giving you 63 days to find and enroll in new coverage available in your new area.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan there are most likely changes that you need to make. The changes you make should be done pretty quickly so you are not without health insurance that is useful. You still have the coverage; it just won’t work as well for you in the new location.

If you move within your region, (the same county or surrounding counties) your HMO and PPO plan may not need to change. These are usually regional plans that give you the same benefits for the same premiums throughout the region. If you have moved to a different part of the state or a different state altogether, you need to look to see what insurance is available in your new location. This move gives you a “Special Enrollment Period” (SEP) to make this change. That is usually 63 days from your move. If you move and your coverage is a Medicare Advantage plan of the PPO or PFFS types, you may not need to do anything but notify the plan of the address change, and find a new primary care physician. Most of these PPO and PFFS plans are national plans and are supposed to work for you all over the country. We know from past columns that this coverage is better in some locations than others. The premium you pay to the company may also change as these plans have regional pricing.

Once you arrive in your new home, contact the local Office of the Aging or equivalent agency to talk with an insurance counselor to find out your alternatives.

If you have EPIC and are staying in New York State, you only need to notify EPIC of the change in address, your coverage will not change. If you have EPIC and are leaving the state, your EPIC coverage will end. EPIC is a New York State plan only.

Good luck, and hope you are happy in your new home.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 716-720-9797 or e-mail her at