You just got a new job – congratulations – or maybe decided to retire. And you’ll be leaving your state to do so. Does the insurance you have now cross state lines when your moving truck does?
It may or it may not. But there are things you can do to make sure you keep your coverage or pick up new coverage so you can avoid any gaps. Don’t let yourself be that person who breaks a leg or gets diagnosed with cancer while uninsured, all in an attempt to save a few bucks. Health insurance is expensive. Getting caught without it can be more so.
Employer Provided Health Insurance
If you’re moving states because your employer is transferring you. then you’ll likely stay on that employer’s plan, providing it has a complete network in the new city. If it doesn’t, the employer might find you a new plan in the new city.
If You're Leaving a Job
If you’re leaving your job and moving to a new state – or even if you’re not changing states – you have the ability to extend your coverage by something known as COBRA, which is an acronym for a particular federal law. As your existing health insurance ends, you can get coverage extended another 18 to 36 months (depending on your circumstances), which could tide you over in the new state. But this only works if the insurer has a network in the new state that makes it feasible to get treatment. And you’ll face sticker shock as well: Under COBRA coverage, you pay the full cost of premiums – so you’ll suddenly be aware of how much your employer had been paying for their share of your coverage. Full details on COBRA are available here.
Insurance Shopping In Your New State
If you need to buy insurance in the new state, the Affordable Care Act made that easier. Under the 2010 health insurance law popularly known as "Obamacare," you can move to a new state and become eligible to buy insurance in that new state. Moving triggers a special enrollment period so you can select a plan right away. If your state doesn’t run its own exchange, you can use the federal exchange: healthcare.gov. The Affordable Care Act has many essential benefits.
Much of the uncertainty of moving to a new state has vanished with provisions of the new law.
If you move to a new state, but don’t immediately have a permanent home, you are still eligible to get insurance in your new state, as long as you intend to remain there.
Insurance for Snowbirds
The exchange, in most instances, will accept your statement regarding change of state residence without any verification. However, you may need to provide documentation that you have moved and intend to reside in a new state if there is some information available that suggests you may live in a different state.
Let’s say you have coverage through an ACA exchange and are a snowbird – living part of the year in one state up north and other in the winter in the south. You should buy coverage in the state where you spend most of the time, pay taxes, and officially reside. If you truly split your time in half or even in thirds, it might be worthwhile to consider plans offered by insurers that use a national provider network so that you could find participating providers in more than one state.
Insuring College Students or Grown Children Under 26
You can cover your adult children who attend college in another state under your healthcare plan. But check out if your student will be able to find medical providers in-network nearby. Some insurers have agreements with companies in other states. Otherwise, you may need to look into a separate plan.
The Bottom Line
Most of the health insurance problems can be solved without too much effort when you or your child moves across state lines, but it is important to plan ahead to avoid gaps in coverage.