Medicare Travel Coverage: Does Medicare Cover You When You’re Out of the Country?
Perhaps you’re traveling abroad this summer – congratulations!
In the excitement and all of the planning, we can often forget about how our health insurance works when we’re traveling overseas.
Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover you when you are out of the country, but you do have options for foreign travel coverage.
Original Medicare Coverage Outside the U.S.
Original Medicare does not cover you while you’re traveling outside of the U.S. Keep in mind that the following are considered part of the U.S:
- All 50 states
- The District of Columbia
- Puerto Rico
- The U.S. Virgin Islands
- The Northern Mariana Islands
- American Samoa
There are only a few exceptions where Medicare will help pay for foreign travel coverage, and they’re very rare circumstances. They include:
- You're in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.
- You're traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency.
- You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether an emergency exists.
- In some cases, Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S. Medicare won't pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.
So, in most cases, if your only health insurance is Original Medicare, you would be responsible for 100% of medical bills you receive while traveling abroad.
Medicare Supplement Foreign Travel Coverage
If you plan on traveling out of the United States, a Medicare Supplement will pick up most of the costs associated with medical emergencies.
The following Medicare Supplement plans help pay for foreign travel coverage:
- Plan C
- Plan D
- Plan F
- Plan G
- Plan M
- Plan N
However, we highly recommend looking at Plan F, G, and N when you’re looking for a supplement plan since these three plans has the most comprehensive coverage in all areas.
How much do Medicare Supplements pay towards foreign medical emergencies?
The Medigap plans that include foreign travel coverage will pay 80% of medically necessary emergency care services. That means you’re responsible for the other 20%.
There is a lifetime maximum benefit of $50,000, which means if you end up with medical bills over $50,000, you will be responsible for all bills over that amount.
Finally, you are responsible for the first $250. After that, the plan’s foreign travel coverage will kick in.
|Medicare pays||Plan pays||You pay|
|First $250 each calendar year||$0||$0||$250|
|Remainder of charges||$0||80% up to lifetime maximum benefit of $50,000||20% and amounts over the $50,000 lifetime maximum|
The final stipulation is that the plan will offer foreign travel coverage during the first 60 days of each trip outside the USA. Most people don’t travel outside of the country for longer than 2 months, but if that may be you, you should tell your agent.
You can also reach out to our team of agents here at Medicare Allies who will be able to assist you in finding the right amount of coverage.
Medicare Advantage Foreign Travel Coverage
If you’re traveling abroad while you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll need to check with your agent to see if you have any health coverage.
By law, Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, so you would be covered in the rare circumstances we mentioned at the beginning of this article. However, beyond that, your coverage (or lack of coverage) will be determined by your individual plan.
Be sure to check with your policy details or your agent if you plan on doing any foreign travel.
What if I don’t have foreign travel coverage?
If you don’t have any foreign travel coverage at all, Medicare suggests talking to your travel agent about travel insurance. Keep in mind that travel insurance does not necessarily include health insurance, so make sure you understand the benefits before relying on it.
For most individuals, a Medicare Supplement works well by offering the perk of foreign travel coverage.
To find out if you will be covered when traveling or to change your coverage, contact a licensed agent today.
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