There are many times in the average American's life where they look at moving to another State and a primary time for this is during or after retirement. It's pretty common for seniors to want to retire in a certain State such as California either by choice or by financial necessity. Either way, if you're under the age 65 and not on Medicare, health insurance can be a big issue in terms of moving to another State since health insurance is still managed on a State by State basis. What if you have Medicare are or shopping for a Medicare supplement insurance plan? Do you need to take into account future moves in such a situation the way you would with a pre-65 individual and family health plan? Great question and we have some good news. Let's take a look at the ability to transport Medicare supplement plans across State lines.
Just the other day, I spoke with a client who has a Medicare supplement insurance plan with us as the broker. They were selling their California house which would afford them quite a bit more where their family was in Ohio even after the the recent housing devaluations. They were concerned with moving before establishing how it would affect their Medicare supplement coverage currently held through a California Medigap carrier. It's not everyday you get to give good news regarding moves and health care. Today was such a day.
The Medicare program itself is of course a Federal program and therefore extends into every U.S. State. Even though the supplements are provided by State regulated private health insurance carriers, Medicare supplements is an exception to the rule that you have to re-apply when moving out of State. In the case mentioned above, the couple would be able to keep their Blue Cross of California Medicare supplement plan and transfer it to their new State of residence. They are not required to change or re-apply. Ideally, all the health plans on the market would have this same sense of portability but for now, it's confined to the Medicare supplement market. What about doctors or providers in the new State? Again, since the overarcing program of Medicare is Federal and available in all States, the provider network is not State-specific but relies on the doctor or providers relationship with the Federal Medicare program. The above couple will be able to use Medicare doctors in the new State and the Medigap plan will pay accordingly. After all, the Medicare supplement looks to traditional Medicare to dictate eligibility both in terms of provider (accepts Medicare) and claims eligibility (is the service covered by Medicare) and this holds true in all States equally.
What about pricing in the new State? Does it make sense to re-apply with the local State's carrier to see if you can get a better rate? Can you automatically transfer to another similar Medicare supplement plan in the new State? In most cases, you would need to qualify based on health for the new Medicare carrier. You generally cannot just transfer plans due to a move but the health underwriting for Medicare supplements isn't terribly stringent in most cases. We recommend running a Medicare supplement quote to see if there's a sizeable savings with the new State's rates. Either way, you have the option available of keeping your existing Medicare supplemental plan after moving across State lines.