Transferring Health Insurance When Moving to Another State

August 13, 2021 / Posted in Moving Tips
Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

The sad truth is that in most cases, you can’t keep the coverage you had at your old location. Transferring health insurance when moving to another state usually implies that shopping for a new one is one more task needed to be done, preferably before the relocation. Unfortunately, that process could be a lot more complex than what you initially thought – stick with us and learn all the useful information about enrolling in healthcare plans.

An application form for health insurance that needs to be filled after long-distance moving
Your wellbeing always needs to come first, and being insured is crucial for that goal

Do I Have to Change Health Insurance if I Move Out of State?

When relocating to a different state, one more thing you’ll need to worry about is your coverage. If you wonder does health insurance work across states, know that the answer is usually no – companies dealing with individual healthcare usually have networks inside of just one state’s borders. So if your question is: “Can I use my health insurance in another state?” be prepared to feel a little disappointed.

Although some special programs can keep you insured even after the interstate move, which we will discuss in the further text, remember to always contact your provider via phone or email to get more information. You may find out that you are covered only in the case of an emergency, but note that your standard for medical emergencies might not be the same for your provider – read all the fine print. If you find out that you won’t be fully insured if you move, know that it is time to cancel your old plan and go look for a new one.

Am I Obligated to Have a Health Insurance (HI)?

Up until 2017, minimum essential coverage was mandatory on a federal level – those ones who didn’t have it had to pay tax penalties. Now, however, the federal penalty in the original form is canceled, but some states keep their right to penalize their citizens for not being insured. When moving to a different home outside of your state’s borders, ensure to get information about the regulations concerning this issue.

Having different types of policies during your relocation could contribute to a more stress-free relocation. When you hire long-distance movers and their packing services, you’ll worry less if you have all your household goods insured. The same goes when hiring an auto transport company that will be responsible for insuring your vehicle – and having a HI is in no way different. However, if you’re still indecisive about buying a plan, try to compare expenses in both cases – you’ll soon realize that you’ll pay a lot more for medical care if you’re not insured.

Take More Than Costs Into Consideration

The financial aspect when trying to move interstate on a budget indeed plays the most important part for many people when choosing the right insurer – but it cannot be the only one. The privacy and security of your personal information must be guaranteed – everything from your name and email address to your medical history must be protected. Choosing a company that will protect your privacy is far more important and is worth a few more banknotes – do your research before you opt for the right one. Treat your insurer as you would your car shipping company or long-distance moving company and pick the best in the business.


Insurer’s Network and Multi-State HI

Some companies can offer their services throughout the country, but you must be careful when choosing them – oftentimes, they tend to offer different programs, no matter the cross-country network coverage they represent.

However, if you opt for this option, consider Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) programs as the most flexible option that doesn’t require you to be treated in in-network hospitals. You could also opt for the Point of Service (POS), a cheaper solution, but the one that requires you to go to doctors and hospitals in-network. Note that these plans are generally more expensive than those that offer the service within one state’s territory.

Employer-Sponsored HI

When working for large companies and corporations, know that they are bound by federal law to pay at least half of HI premiums, which usually makes workplace HI policies more affordable than individual ones. Not only that – one of the cases, when you might not need to purchase a different HI, is connected to relocating for a job or to a cross-country office move. If your company collaborates with big providers who have a network in the city you’ll be working in, you won’t have to purchase a different one.

Moreover, there will be no problem for you even if the current company’s provider has only an in-state network. If your work contract implies the existence of employer-sponsored HI, it is up to your company to find a healthcare solution for you and your dependents if the current one is not a possibility after your move.

A team meeting after cross-country moving
Big companies could reduce your HI expenses after interstate relocation

Cross-Country Moving and Qualifying Events

Usually, an American citizen should check different plans during the Open Enrollment Period and buy the suitable one – after that, getting a HI plan becomes harder. But what happens if your move is scheduled after that time? How to transfer health insurance to another state after that period? Luckily for all of us, there are such things called qualifying events, so don’t cancel your long-distance moving services just yet. Qualifying events such as marriage, divorce, death of a family member, and other similar life changes could make you eligible for the Special Enrollment Period (SEP), where people can purchase different healthcare plans after the Open Enrollment Period is over.

So, is moving to a new state a qualifying event for health insurance? The answer is yes – changes in residence are considered qualifying events, so after the move, you’ll have a 60 days window to explore and buy a HI policy. Note that this 60-day period usually doesn’t start until the day of your move. Also, remember that this benefit is provided only for those citizens who had an HI policy prior to the relocation.

A family unpacking after cross-country moving
As a qualifying event, relocation gives you the right to use the Special Enrollment Period

All Information You Need on How to Get Health Insurance When Moving to Another State

When moving out of state, health insurance might not be the first thing that comes to your mind, so transferring it became one of the things people forget to do when relocating – remember not to make one of the most common relocation mistakes.

Before getting a different policy, your old plan provider must be one of the parties you should notify when relocating, so make sure this task is on your relocation to-do list, even if you have a last-minute move. Only after that should you make decisions about the time and the way you’ll be making a purchase – before or after cross-country movers come, by phone, in person, or online.

Enroll in a New Healthcare Plan According to Your Resources and Financial Possibilities

Getting organized to move means, on top of everything else, having in mind the cost of interstate relocation, but also all of the other essential expenses after the move. Different agencies offer different prices and services, so ensure to pick a policy that corresponds to your preferences, needs, and financial situation.

If you’re wondering: “How can I change health insurance when I move?”, know that Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) has a federal Health Insurance Marketplace (aka Marketplace or Exchange), a government website where you can browse through different coverages to find one that suits you the most. Getting a Marketplace account will help you search HI programs based on your location and purchase the one that you prefer. However, some states have their own Marketplace that can be of use for you, so make sure to explore that. Note that, for your enrollment, you’ll need to provide proof of your relocation as well as proof of your intention to stay at the new location.

If you want to quit your job but have been insured through the employer, you should keep in mind the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which provides you with extended coverage up to 36 months after you leave the old company (if your provider has a network in the location you are relocating to). However, you need to know that this is a costlier solution, considering that you’ll be paying the whole amount. On the other hand, if you lost your job during the coronavirus, check to see if you are eligible for the plan provided by the government.

Medicare and Medicaid – Are You Qualified for More Affordable Options?

Medicare is a federal coverage meant for people over the age of 65 or younger people with certain disabilities. Its advantages lie in affordability and the fact that most of the hospitals and doctors across the country are a part of it. If you are enrolled in this plan, know that there is a good possibility that you don’t have to change the coverage. However, save time for an email or call to get more informed.

Medicaid is a free or low-cost program meant for adults with low income, children, pregnant women, and the like. Considering it is connected to states’ administrations, there may be differences when it comes to eligibility rules. For example, they may be a different limit when it comes to the lowest required income – always check the requirements to see if you still qualify. You will also be able to find out if the requirements are more suitable for you than those at your old location.

If you want to find out more about these Medicare and Medicaid programs, don’t miss the following video:

What to Do When the Gap Between Two Coverages Happens?

The question: “When should I change my health insurance when I move?” has already come up, and we pointed out that the Special Enrolment Period usually starts on the day of your move. That means that there will most certainly be a gap between the cancelation of the old and the effective date of your different coverage. This problem and inconveniences that could come from it could be resolved before they happen if you opt for a short-term plan.

Note that these programs are not regulated by the Affordable Care Act, and you must purchase them directly from the company (not the Marketplace). It could cover the time from a month to the whole year and become effective the day after submitting your application. However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, those companies might not find you eligible – they are meant for medical care in cases of unexpected injury or illness.

Ambulance workers medically treating a woman after a long-distance move
Short-term HI will get you covered until the effective date of the long-term one

Transferring Health Insurance to Another State When Living in Multiple States

Students, seasonal workers, but also those who relocate in winter to the warmer parts of the country are often confused about the HI question. Most of them decide to buy a policy at the location where they pay taxes, vote, and generally spend most of the year. Another common option for retirees, aside from Medicare, is opting for PPO, POS, or some other multi-state network programs. However, note that every person who moves to a different location for one season or longer can get SEP if they want to buy a healthcare plan at their new location. Still, remember that regular changes in plans can impact your finances and negatively affect your tax relief.

Should Students Purchase HI Programs?

Every person under the age of 26 could be covered through their parents’ programs. However, this works only if the parent’s provider has a network in the city where the student goes to college. If not, after deciding what to pack for college and figuring out all the logistics when relocating for the first time, different HI options should also be considered, such as:

  • Purchasing a different program in the city where the student is studying,
  • Getting a school-sponsored HI,
  • Enrollment with Medicaid (if they are legally independent).
A girl reading a book at college after long-distance moving
If you are a student, or your child is, you are able to choose from various options

Better Be Safe Than Sorry – Imperative After the Relocation

No matter what your reasons to move are, one of the first things to do after the relocation is to choose your new insurer. Even if a minor injury occurs, not being insured could severely suppress all the benefits of relocation you experienced after the move. Be smart – the moment you decide where to live, start thinking and researching your options. We hope you’ll find just the right match!

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