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Steps For Transferring Your HIV Services When You Move Between States

This past August I moved from Washington, D.C. to NYC in order to pursue a career in media and journalism. As with any move, there came the long, never-ending struggle of moving everything from one city to another. The basics were easy. Starting the lights, cable, gas (which I forgot), and moving all of my furniture went pretty smoothly. The change of address to all my bills and publications seemingly went through without a hitch, as well. However, one hurdle that I am now finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel of is transferring my healthcare services, which can become a complicated process without proper attention.

Healthcare in America has been a major topic of discussion as the repeal of Obamacare fell one vote short this past July. However, Obamacare is struggling now as insurers continue to leave from state marketplaces, leaving consumers with less options to choose from and forcing many to go without healthcare due to higher premiums. The problem with switching insurers can actually be two-fold based on circumstances.

Moving from state to state for a job that has insurance:

The process is much easier if you are moving from one job with health insurance to another job with health insurance. However, it can also have its hurdles, so it’s important to make sure you are following all the steps to ensure you can continue coverage and not run into an issue with missing medication. As someone who has worked in healthcare, dealing both with finance and human resources, there are some important steps to follow to ensure you don’t get caught in that loophole.

  1. Check with the new job about when coverage will start

Some employers will allow for coverage to start immediately while others will make you wait 30 days before it starts. It is important to know this because your current employer may end your insurance immediately, meaning there could be a gap in coverage. You can always request for your current employer to keep your coverage until month’s end, or if your new coverage starts immediately, that could help you in the long run.

  1. Check if new coverage is in-network with your current provider

You will want to make sure that your new coverage can stay with the network of doctors that you currently have. If you are a part of a medical center like AHF, Kaiser Permanente, etc., you will want to see if the state you are moving to has those same facilities. It is much easier to transfer medical records and keep in care if you are able to stay in the same network.

  1. See who your new insurance will cover you to see

Once you are informed of your new healthcare coverage, it is okay to begin looking at the facilities in the area that will take your new insurance. The doctor/patient relationship is an important one so you will want to make sure you are going somewhere you will be comfortable and where you feel welcomed.

Moving from state to state using Medicaid

This process can be a lot harder if you are not properly prepared with the documents you will need. In speaking with case manager Roderick Sheppard of the organization Us Helping Us People into Living in Washington, D.C., I learned how to get the full details on preparing my move. According to Roderick, he follows these steps with all clients, and clients should have these documents and expectations for their first appointment:

Services provider’s assessments aren’t always identical, but here are some key areas one might consider to better assess the needs and demands of their client:

  • Personal and Family Medical History
  • Mental Health Treatment History
  • Insurance status
  • Substance Use
  • Employment status and history
  • Housing Status
  • Legal history
  • Religion/Community Involvement
  • Sexual Health

To help providers conduct a thorough assessment, patients can bring the following documents:

  • Medical History (both mental & physical)
  • Visit Summary from last doctor’s visit
  • Most recent lab work (6 month oldest)
  • List of all medical conditions and medications used for treatment
  • Psychosocial assessment or Psychiatry Evaluation
  • Insurance Card
  • State identification, Passport, Driver’s License (please note for some services state identification may be required)
  • Proof of Income (paystubs, SSI/SSDI statement, unemployment statement, tax returns)
  • Documentation of any special circumstance (termination letter, resignation, employment separation agreement, documentation of hospitalizations)

During the assessment, personal information will be discussed and it is imperative to be seen by a provider to whom you feel comfortable disclosing such information. If you don’t feel comfortable, then you might want to consider finding a new physician. There are a number of ways to select a physician if you’re new to town and unsure how. Try using the recommendation feature on Facebook, reading online reviews (Yelp, WebMD, and Google) or contacting a community based organization to get their recommendations. Give the physician you select a trial period and see how you like them. If your service provider doesn’t meet your standards for care, then you should seek services elsewhere because your health and wellness are too important.

For myself, I am changing from a career that provided insurance into one of freelance journalism, which I will have to provide a portion of it myself. I am going through an agency that will help me with a plan that suits my best needs so that I can stay treatment adherent and not have a long delay in receiving my next prescription. It is important that when transitioning into a new state that you know all of the options and that you are fully prepared with all you will need to reduce heartache. Happy Moving!