Help! Mom Moved In With Us, But Her Medicare Plan Isn't Accepted Here!
Q: We recently moved my mom from another part of the state to live with us. She's starting to have memory problems and it's too risky for her to live on her own. Recently when we went for a visit to her new doctor, I discovered that her Medicare health plan isn't accepted in our area. Can she enroll in a new plan now that Open Enrollment is over?
A: If your mom has permanently moved out of the area served by her former private Medicare health, she will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to switch to another private health plan. These plans are also known as Medicare Advantage plans. The rules covering the period you have to shop for and switch to a new plan depend on your circumstances, particularly, whether you notified her private health plan in advance, or after the move. In addition, how your health plan learns of her move, whether from you, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), or the postal service — also affects the period you have to switch to a new plan.
According to information from the Medicare Rights Center, a nonprofit organization that provides Medicare counseling and educational programs, when you notify a Medicare Advantage plan after the move, then your mom's Special Enrollment Period begins the month you tell her plan, plus two more full months thereafter.
But if your mom has lived with you some months already, you will need to determine if her former Medicare Advantage plan has already learned from CMS or the Postal Service of the move. If she moved over six months ago, then the plan should disenroll your mom 12 months after the move, but her Special Enrollment Period begins at the beginning of the sixth month and continues through the end of the eighth month after your move.
If more than 12 months have passed, the plan should disenroll your mom, and her Special Enrollment Period should begin at the beginning of the twelfth month and continue through the end of the fourteenth month after the move.
To shop and switch to a new Medicare Advantage health plan, visit www.Medicare.gov and click on the link to "Find health and drug plans." View the videos supplied to help you learn how to use the tool. If you feel you need more help, free one-on-one counseling is available through State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) that operate through many local area agencies on aging. To find the agency in your area, try the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. To learn more about Medicare, visit MedicareInteractive.org, an online tool that can answer your Medicare questions, created and maintained by the Medicare Rights Center.