Congratulations! You decided to move to another state to fulfill your dream. Does your current insurance cross state lines with you? It may or may not. However, there are things you can do to make sure you keep your coverage or pick up new coverage to avoid gaps. Don’t be the person who breaks a leg or gets diagnosed with a serious illness while uninsured just to save a few bucks. Health insurance is expensive. Getting caught without it can be more so.
- Moving to another state may warrant finding new health insurance as some plans may terminate upon the move or may not provide coverage in the new state.
- If coverage transfers, is it still prudent to verify the system of in-network providers.
- If health insurance coverage terminates upon an interstate move, an extension of coverage may be offered through the COBRA program.
- The Affordable Care Act of 2010 has made it easier to find health insurance.
Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
If your employer transfers you to another state, you’ll likely stay on their sponsored plan, providing it has a complete network in the new city. If it doesn’t, the employer might find you a new, accommodating plan.
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 can extend your coverage through COBRA, short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. 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.
Although this is a great benefit, you'll face a bit of sticker shock. Under COBRA coverage, you pay the full cost of premiums, which brings awareness to how much your employer paid for their share of your coverage.
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the federal government will pay COBRA insurance premiums for individuals (and their covered relatives) that lost their job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2021.
Insurance Shopping in Your New State
If you need to buy insurance in the new state, the Affordable Care Act makes the process easier. Under the 2010 health insurance law coined as "Obamacare," you can move and become eligible to buy insurance in the new state. Moving triggers a special enrollment period, allowing you to select a plan right away. If your state doesn’t run an 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 the state residence change without 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.
For example, you have coverage through an ACA exchange and are a snowbird—living part of the year in one state up north and 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 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. It is important to verify if your student will be able to find in-network medical providers nearby. Some insurers have agreements with companies in other states. Otherwise, you may need to look into a separate plan.
The Bottom Line
Most 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.