In this Q&A series, Medicare expert Christian Worstell answers your questions about Medicare coverage, benefits, eligibility, enrollment and more. Christian is a licensed insurance agent and frequent contributor to MedicareAdvantage.com.
"I would like to sign up for prescription drug coverage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period this fall, but I will be moving to a new state right after the enrollment period ends. How will that affect me and what do I need to do?" – Rodney A., Augusta, GA
Your situation could present quite the pickle, but there are very likely some other Medicare beneficiaries out there who are in the same boat. What you’ll need to do is take a bit of a “scenic route” to getting your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
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Let me explain.
Medicare prescription drug coverage includes geographical boundaries known as “service areas.” This is true whether you get Medicare drug coverage from a standalone Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage. In other words, your coverage may be valid in one state or area of the country but not in another.
If you move to a new service area, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Your SEP may allow you to disenroll from your previous plan (from your old place of residence) and enroll in a plan that does business in your new service area.
Make sense? Here is where things can get tricky for some people in your situation.
In order to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period because of an address change, you must be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D plan that doesn’t cover you in the new service area you’re moving to.
Since you aren’t moving until after the fall Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (also called AEP or the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which lasts from October 15 to December 7), you may want to go ahead and enroll in a plan during AEP or do nothing and remain in your current plan. After AEP when you complete your move, you should then be able to enroll in a plan that is provided in your new service area.
A few things to note:
Once you move, your Special Enrollment Period should typically last for three months. The time at which this period starts may depend on when you notify your current plan carrier of your move.
I recommend following these steps:
While this may feel like a lot of work, the process of enrolling and disenrolling is typically quite fast and smooth, and you will hopefully secure Medicare drug coverage that works for your needs.
Good luck with the move and don’t hesitate to reach out with any follow up questions.
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Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports: