Medicare and Moving: What You Need to Know

Your Medicare plan’s coverage area will determine if you need to make changes after a move.

A senior couple playing in an empty room with boxes, after having just moved.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re moving, you may be wondering if you need to make changes to your Medicare coverage. The answer depends on the type of coverage you have. You may not need to do anything at all if your Medicare plan can be used in your new town or state. However, if you are enrolled in a Medicare plan that isn’t offered in your new locale, you will need to take action. 

Original Medicare and moving

You are in luck if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. You don’t need to make changes to your coverage if you’re moving, either to a new address in your state or out of state. Original Medicare is an insurance policy that can be used countywide. Medicare Advantage plans are more akin to an HMO and participants are limited to their slate doctors and facilities.  

Original Medicare doesn’t have the limited provider networks that Medicare Advantage plans do. You can use any hospital or doctor throughout the country that takes Medicare assignment. When a doctor accepts assignment, this means he or she won’t charge you more than the Medicare-approved amount for a health care service, although you’ll still be responsible for any copayments or deductibles that apply. You can use this Medicare tool to find and compare providers close to your new home. 

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Guaranteed-issue rights and Medigap plans

In most cases, you won’t be able to switch your Medigap policy outside your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period except in specific situations when you have a guaranteed issue right. 

Guaranteed-issue rights are granted if you move outside of your Medigap plan’s service area. This is important because guaranteed-issue rights are special protections you have in certain situations to buy Medigap insurance, such as moving out of a service area. In these situations, Medigap insurance companies can’t deny you coverage and most can't charge you higher premiums because of pre-existing conditions. 

Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) and moving 

A Medigap policy, also called Medicare supplement insurance, is private health insurance that supplements Original Medicare. This means it helps pay for some of the “gaps” that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Medigap policies only help pay if you are enrolled in Original Medicare. You don’t need (and can't buy) a Medigap policy if you’re in a Medicare Advantage health plan.  

But you can purchase a Medigap plan with guaranteed-issue rights if you were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and are moving out of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area. However, you must first switch back to Original Medicare. After you return to Original Medicare, you can enroll with guaranteed-issue rights in certain Medigap insurance plans offered by any insurance company in your state.

If you choose to switch to a different Medigap plan offered in your new location keep in mind that if you don’t have guaranteed-issue rights, you will probably have to pay a higher premium for that coverage or could be rejected if you have pre-existing health problems.

Medicare SELECT plans and moving

If you’re moving to a different state, or if you’re moving within the same state, but out of your Medicare SELECT plan’s service area, you have guaranteed-issue rights to purchase a different Medigap plan.

You must apply for a new Medigap policy either 60 days before — or no more than 63 days after — your Medicare SELECT coverage ends. 

 You have two options for coverage: 

  • You can buy a standardized Medigap policy from your current insurance company as long as it offers the same (or fewer) benefits. If you’ve had your Medicare SELECT policy for more than 6 months, you won’t have to answer any medical questions
  • You can switch Medigap policies. You can switch to Medigap Plan A, B, C, D, F, G, K, or L that’s sold by an insurance company in your state or the state you’re moving to

Note: Plan C and Plan F aren’t available if you turned 65 on or after January 1, 2020, and to some people under age 65. You might be able to get these plans if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled. 

Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan) and moving 

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan) and are moving outside your plan’s service area, you will need to enroll in a plan that is within your new service area. This is true whether you move to a new address in your state or to a new state. 

In some instances, the insurance company may offer the same plan in your new service area, and you may have the option to enroll in the same plan if they are accepting new members.

Using the Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

You can use the Medicare special enrollment period to make make changes to your coverage if:

  • You are moving out of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area 
  • You are moving to a new location that’s still in your Medicare plan’s service area, but there are new plan options available in your new area 

You can use your Special Election Period (SEP) to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or Part D coverage. You must contact your Medicare Advantage plan to disenroll. 

If you notify your Advantage plan before you move, your SEP starts the month before you move and continues for two more months after you move. If you let your Advantage plan know after you’ve moved, your SEP starts the month you tell your plan and continues for another two months. 

Switching back to Original Medicare 

You can also choose to return to Original Medicare if you have a Medicare Advantage plan and there aren’t any Medicare Advantage plans available in the new service area or you don’t want to enroll in one. You can then sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan, and are able to buy a Medigap insurance policy. 

Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you move 

If you’re moving, you should contact Social Security to update the mailing address that Medicare has on file for you. Medicare works with SSA to maintain your records and you don't want to miss any important notifications.

Here is how you can notify the SSA: 

  • Online: Use the Social Security website, ssa.gov, to update your information online. If you have a My Social Security account, you can log into your 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 8am to 7pm in all time zones. 
  • In person: Visit your local Social Security office to update your information in person. 

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Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation. Donna graduated from Brooklyn Law School and University at Buffalo.