Traveling Retirees and Medicare Coverage
Most Americans know that when they hit 65 they gain access to Medicare. Along with that birthday, many are getting in the groove of their newfound retirement freedom! This could mean traveling to a warmer state during cold weather, even possibly establishing a second residence. This all sounds amazing, however, there are a few things to know when it comes to Medicare because it works a little differently when it comes to staying for extended periods away from your permanent residence.
Original Medicare for Living in Multiple Locations
When you apply for Medicare, make sure you use your permanent address you currently have on file with the Social Security Administration. You won’t need to change your address each time you travel as long as your permanent residence remains the same.
You will probably want supplemental coverage to help with Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket expenses because it does not have a cap on these costs. Most beneficiaries of Original Medicare have supplemental coverage.
Medicare Advantage for Travelers
Your plan is based on your permanent residence and you will want to choose a plan with out-of-network benefits if you plan on traveling a lot. Your Medicare Advantage plan may have in-network providers where you plan to spend your time away from your permanent residence and that may be all the coverage that you need. Even if the plan doesn’t have in-network providers in that area, if you are fine with higher out-of-pocket expenses you will have with an out-of-network provider, it may still be a good option for you.
Medigap and Traveling
Medigap is chosen based on what is available in the area of your permanent residence zip code. However, you can use this plan anywhere in the country so your coverage should remain the same regardless of where you are.
Medicare Part D Drug Coverage Away from Home
Again, this is a plan you choose based on your permanent resident address. Each of the Part D plans have a network of pharmacies. Preferred, standard, and out-of-network pharmacies vary with each plan. If you visit a preferred pharmacy, you will pay the most cost-effective prices compared to standard pharmacies. If a pharmacy is out of network with your plan, you will pay for the entire cost and won’t have coverage.
Part D plans also have national coverage. For example, if Walgreens is one of your plan’s preferred or standard pharmacies, you can go to any Walgreens in the U.S. and fill your prescription. This means you do not have to change your Part D plan when traveling to your second home. However, you technically must reside in the “home residence” for at least half the year. If you don’t, the plan can drop you.
Paying for Medicare
It is extremely important to change your temporary mailing address (you can forward your mail through USPS) if you plan on being away from your permanent residence for an extended period if you receive a quarterly bill for your Part B premium (or any direct bill). You never want to miss a bill because your coverage could lapse. But remember, you can always pay for your Part B premium online if you prefer.
If you have a Medigap plan, you probably want to schedule a monthly draft for your premiums, if not, this temporary address forwarding will also be very important to make sure you receive your Medigap bills so your coverage remains intact.
Stay on Top of Changes
Always bear in mind that Medicare plans can change each year, so you will always want to view your plan’s Annual Notice of Change letter to ensure your travel benefits and networks have not changed.
When you retire and decide to travel for extended periods, your Medicare decisions are critical. You want to have coverage no matter where you are and you do not want to risk losing coverage and there are many details to consider so that you can spend more time enjoying your travel experiences!
To get unbiased help with your Medicare decisions, feel free to reach out any time!
Brenda Gilliam, Your Medicare Insurance Agent & Extra Help Coordinator
* Not affiliated with any government agency.
*We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all your options.