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Are you moving? Here’s how to find a new doctor you love

Senior couple holding boxes in new house

If you have Medicare Advantage, you’ll still be covered if you change locations. Here’s what to know about the process.

Whether you want to be near family or friends or just relocate to a warmer place, you've decided to take the plunge and move. Maybe it’s in a different town in the same state, or maybe you’re heading out of state. Either way, you know it’s the right decision. You'll be close to people you love if anything happens. They’ve even offered to drive you to doctor’s appointments.  

Speaking of your doctor, everything seems like an easy switch except for your health insurance. Rest assured that with a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you won’t lose coverage if you move.1  

But you can’t take your favorite Optum doctors and specialists with you when you move. And your coverage doesn’t just transfer over. Well, not exactly.  

So, what does happen when you move? How do you find a new primary care doctor (PCP) and specialists so you can stay healthy? Learn the answers to those questions and more below.  

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What happens to my Medicare Advantage coverage when I move?   

Here’s some good news: Whether you move inside or outside of your MA coverage area, you won’t lose your health benefits. That’s because you get something called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).1 That’s a window of time in which you can make changes to your MA plan coverage when you move. 

Here are some common situations where you’d get an SEP:1 

  • You move to a new address that isn’t in your plan’s service area. 
  • You move to a new address that’s in your plan’s service area, but you also have new plan options in the new location. 
  • You move back to the United States after living outside the country. 
  • You just moved into, currently live in, or just moved out of a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital. 

Generally, your SEP window would open during the month you move and continue for two full months after, if you tell your plan before you move. If you tell them after you move, your SEP begins during the month you tell your plan, plus you’ll get two additional months after that.1 

You also have several options for switching your coverage. Before you move, call your insurance company to find out your options for a new MA plan.1 You can choose to join a new MA plan with that insurance company, if it’s available in your new area. You can also switch from your current MA provider to a new one.

Keep in mind that Optum doctors accept a wide selection of Medicare Advantage plans. In fact, more than 100 insurance companies are part of the Optum network.2 So you may be able to find a new plan that still lets you use Optum doctors. Your options vary depending on the state you’re moving to. 

How do I find new doctors when I move?  

Your first order of business will be tracking down a new PCP. Look for one within your insurance network, says Steve Rousseau, MD. He’s an Optum family medicine practitioner in Muncie, Indiana. You can also ask friends and relatives in your new town for recommendations. 

Some key questions you’ll want to consider:  

  • How close is the new doctor’s office to you? 
  • What’s their educational background? 
  • What areas of health care do they specialize in?  
  • Are they affiliated with certain hospitals or care centers?  

Dr. Rousseau says that some patients may also compare office fees, such as what it costs for after-hours care or to cancel an appointment. Those can vary from practice to practice.  

If you’re the type of patient who reads online reviews of doctors, Dr. Rousseau suggests taking them with a grain of salt. For example, some patients see a new doctor only to get a particular prescription, he says. If they’re declined, they may get angry and write a bad review.  

At a bare minimum, Dr. Rousseau advises looking for doctors who:  

  • Are board certified 
  • Don’t have too many complaints against them online  
  • Have never had their license suspended 

You can find a huge network of Optum Care doctors in many communities across the country. They can also refer you to a specialist. Find an Optum doctor

How do I transfer my medical records to my new doctor?   

Let’s say you get settled and find a new Optum doctor. As soon as you’ve made an appointment with them, you can call your old doctor’s office and request that they transfer your medical records. That’s so your new doctor is up to speed on things such as your family history, medical history and care history.  
Before you move, be sure to write down your former doctor’s contact information. You’ll also want their fax number or email address, so you can easily set up the transfer. It’s worth noting that you may have to pay a small transfer fee.3  

Dr. Rousseau recommends setting a reminder on your smartphone (or jotting a note on your calendar) to follow up a week or two after the request. That’ll be to make sure your new doctor has received your records.  

What happens if my new doctor doesn’t have my medical records yet?  

Dr. Rousseau says that you don’t need to postpone your first doctor’s visit if your records haven’t arrived yet. While it won’t be the “perfect” visit, he says, you can help make it a better one by bringing:  

  • A list of the medications you’re currently taking (or a bag with all your pill bottles in them)  
  • A list of allergies, if any 
  • A list of the previous surgeries you’ve had 
  • A list of the long-term conditions you have 
  • Your family history, if you have it, written down  

You can also tell your new doctor what you did or didn’t like about your previous doctor. Every patient has a different way they prefer to be cared for, and it’s best to be direct about your preferences, says Dr. Rousseau.  

One thing that will bring you comfort, no matter where you move? Optum’s PCPs, specialists and care teams will focus on helping you stay healthy. They will take the time to listen and understand your needs. And they will help you reach your personal health goals. That’s the Optum way.  


  1. Medicare.gov. Special Enrollment Periods. Accessed January 29, 2024. 
  2. Optum.com. Make the better choice for your health care. Accessed January 29, 2024. 
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Individuals’ right under HIPAA to access their health information 45 CFR § 164.524. Last reviewed January 5, 2024. Accessed January 29, 2024. 

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