What moving means for your Medicare benefits
May 1, 2021 | View PDF
It’s that time of year again; the sun is warm, breakup is messy, and the snowbirds are migrating back to Alaska. It’s the time of year where the year-round residents and snowbirds alike are asking themselves, “Is this the year I finally move?”
What does moving mean for your Medicare benefits? What is the process? Will your coverage change?
Moving out of Alaska
Medicare Parts A & B: The most important thing to do when moving is to update your address with the Social Security Administration. This will ensure you don’t miss important updates about Medicare or that a replacement Medicare card will arrive at the correct location. Your Medicare A & B benefits will follow you to any provider who accepts Medicare through all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Medigap: Medigap, or Medicare supplement plans, offer standardized benefits to work with your Medicare A & B and you won’t need to change plans. However, you may want to contact your plan’s provider and see if the costs will be changing. You may also want to contact your destination state’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to discuss what changing Medigap plans looks like as enrollment rules can change between states.
Part D: Medicare Part D prescription drug plans do have coverage areas so you may need to switch plans. You can call your plan directly or the state SHIP office to discuss your current plan’s coverage area. You will be granted a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to change your Medicare Part D plan if you are moving to a new coverage area. If you notify your Part D plan of a permanent move in advance, you have an SEP to switch to another Part D plan beginning as early as the month before your move and lasting up to two months after the move. If you notify your Part D plan of a permanent move after you move, you have an SEP to switch to another drug plan, beginning the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months thereafter.
Medicare Advantage: You may also be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) if you are moving to an area that offers these plans. This is another call to the state’s SHIP office to determine what coverage you may be eligible for. Your SEP to explore Medicare Advantage plans will be the same as the Part D SEP.
Moving to Alaska
A & B: The most important thing remains updating your address with the Social Security Administration. If you already have Medicare Parts A & B, your coverage will not change.
Medigap: The same details as moving out of Alaska apply. The plan coverage is standardized but plan change eligibility or costs may change.
Part D: You may need to change plans to one that has Alaska in its coverage area. You can contact your plan or the Alaska Medicare Information Office to discuss coverage details. The
same enrollment periods detailed above will apply.
Medicare Advantage: There are no Medicare Advantage plans in Alaska. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and are moving to the state of Alaska, you will need to make sure to notify your Medicare Advantage plan when you move, update your address with Social Security, and enroll into a Part D plan which has service areas in Alaska. This will ensure your Medicare changes from the Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, providing you the coverage you need here.
This summary is not comprehensive. If you are receiving cost assistance such as Extra Help or Medicare savings program, are moving abroad, or have other questions about moving with Medicare, call the Medicare Information Office to discuss further how moving will affect your benefits.
Colton Percy is a Certified Medicare Counselor and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Medicare Information Office, the Alaska State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and Senior Medicare Partol (SMP). If you have questions about Medicare or are interested in volunteering and helping your fellow Alaskans navigate Medicare, please call 1-800-478-6065.