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5 Ways to Update Your Health Insurance after Moving to a New State

Moving to a new state means a lot of changes.  You have to enroll the kids in new schools, adjust to a new climate and create a new community of friends. You also have to make sure that you and your family maintain the health coverage you enjoyed before you moved.  After all, carrying heavy furniture and the stress of moving are almost ideal conditions for an injury or health problem.

Just a few years ago, moving meant a myriad of challenges regarding health insurance.  If you had a pre-existing condition, you probably had to join a state-sponsored high risk insurance pool, but these often had long wait periods. However, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there are now no such restrictions on health plans.

1. Employer-sponsored plans:

If you work for the same employer in your new location and you continue as a full-time employee, then you are probably still covered by the same employer health plan. You will likely pay the same premiums and out-of-pocket expenses as you did at your prior location. Your network probably hasn’t changed, i.e. HMO, EPO, or PPO, but you should do some investigating to find a personal physician. Before you see a new doctor, make sure they are in your network or you could pay some large out-of-network surcharges.

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2. Obamacare plans:

Almost all of the plans found on the ACA-sponsored health insurance marketplaces are specific to a geographic location. That means you cannot maintain that policy when you move across state lines. However, a change of residence qualifies as a life change, allowing you to use a Special Enrollment to purchase a new plan from your new local market (as long as you had an Obamacare plan prior to the move). You have 60 days to find and enroll in a new plan during this Special Enrollment period.

Although some exchanges do allow you to enroll prior to a move, most will only allow you to do so once you have arrived at your new residence.  This may lead to a coverage gap, but you have the option of enrolling in a short-term policy.  Short-term policies may be more expensive and have fewer benefits because they are exempt from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

3. Medicare plans:

Like other plans offered through the federal government, Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans are regionally locked. If you are enrolled in traditional Medicare Parts A, B or D, then you have less to do as the plan is the same throughout the country. You will need to find a new physician that takes Medicare—which can be challenging as fewer doctors are taking on new patients with traditional Medicare.  You will need to notify Medicare only of your new address and your new doctor.  You should be aware, however, that the amount you pay out of pocket may be different, because the overall costs for medical products and services may vary significantly from region to region.

Finding Health Insurance for a Parent

If you are enrolled in Medicare Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, then you will need to cancel your old plan and shop for a new one when you move into your new home. As with the Obamacare health plans, you don’t need to wait for the annual Open Enrollment period.  A move across state lines makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, so you can join a new plan almost immediately.

4. Traditional private insurance:

If you are not enrolled in an Obamacare health plan or other federal insurance program, but have private insurance outside of your employer, you will probably have to put some effort into updating your health plan. You should start this process by talking to your old insurance carrier. Although most insurance policies are specific to a geographic region, your old insurer may be willing to transfer the policy to your new location.  Even if they can’t carry over your old policy, they may be able to suggest a new policy that could be just as satisfactory as the old one.

If your old insurer can’t provide you with assistance, then you should look into enrolling in an Obamacare health plan. If you make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you may qualify for a premium tax credit which could deduct hundreds of dollars from your monthly premium.

Finally, if you can’t find a health plan that meets your needs, you should look for a reputable insurance broker like Boost Health Insurance.  Unlike insurance agents that work for the insurance companies, a broker is an independent advisor that will try to help you find the best policy for your needs. Not only do they have access to health plans from the major insurers, they can often offer plans not normally available to the general public.

5. Medicaid re-enrollment:

If you are enrolled in the federal insurance program Medicaid, then you will have to re-apply to the Medicaid program in your new state. Although Medicaid is federally sponsored, it is partially funded and managed by state governments; therefore, every state has its own eligibility requirements. Just because you qualified for Medicaid in your old state, doesn’t mean you will meet the eligibility criteria in your new state. This is especially true if you are coming from one of the states that raised income eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level under the Affordable Care Act, and are moving to another state that did not.

Medical Insurance And Medicaid Expansion

While re-enrolling in Medicaid is difficult, it is not impossible.  Luckily the application process only takes 15 to 90 days once you move.  Furthermore, if you are approved, Medicaid will cover you retroactively from the date you applied. It is therefore important to research the application procedure before you actually move and be prepared.  Once you have taken up residence in your new home, you should complete and send off your Medicaid application as soon as possible.

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