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Are You Covered By Medicare While You Are Traveling in Other Countries?

Does Medicare provide medical coverage while you are traveling? It is important to understand how Medicare works if you plan to travel outside the US.

2 mins read
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Many people start traveling more after they retire at age 65 or later. At about the same age, they also sign up for Medicare.

Just when you start to travel more, you might wonder whether Medicare covers your medical expenses when you’re abroad.

You see, Original Medicare – whether you call it Original Medicare or Medicare Part A and B – will not provide health care coverage when you are outside of the U.S. or its territories. If you end up in a hospital in the Caribbean because you fell off a moped or if you go to see a physician in Mexico to get some pills for a case of food poisoning, you can end up having to pay out of pocket. And sometimes the financial surprise can be even worse if you have a hospital stay and don’t get an itemized bill until after you’re back home in the States.

Plus, the Covid-19 Pandemic can cost you additional money today. You have probably heard stories about Americans who have tested positive for Covid while they have been in other countries and been required to spend a week or more in quarantine before they could return home. The costs of staying in a hotel for a week can really add up.

Are There Any Medicare Plans That Cover Travel Emergencies

While Original Medicare won’t cover medical or hospital costs while travelling, the good news is that with certain Medicare plans you can get some coverage for travel emergencies.

Medicare Supplement – Travel Emergency Coverage

If you have Medigap Plan C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M or N, your plan:

  • Covers foreign travel emergency care if it begins during the first 60 days of your trip, and if Medicare doesn’t otherwise cover the care.
  • Pays 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible for the year.

Foreign travel emergency coverage with Medigap policies has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

Medicare Advantage – Travel Emergency Coverage

You may find some coverage within Medicare Advantage plans for international travel, however, this the exception rather than the rule. Typically the coverage may be subject to a copay and maximum coverage limit and can only be used for care within an emergency room or emergency hospital admission.

Your Defense? Be Sure to Get Medical Coverage Before You Travel

How can you be sure to select a policy that does? First, read the descriptions of plans you are considering – either online or in printed plan descriptions that you get from the insurer.
If you have worked with an insurance agent in the past and have a strong relationship, you can ask that person too. Another step – and this is critically important – is to speak with a qualified Medicare advisor who really knows the reputations and performance of different plans.

And what about travel insurance? Some travel insurance plans offer medical and health services that can include hospital care in foreign countries and the cost of emergency repatriation services (you will be flown back to the United States in a private small air ambulance or plane that is equipped to provide medical monitoring).

There are several ways to obtain these emergency policies :

  • One-time trip insurance. You can purchase trip insurance at the same time you buy plane tickets – either online or on the phone with a travel agent or airline. Generally, this kind of insurance will cover costs if you cancel a trip, but some policies also offer some medical services including emergency evacuation if you become ill when traveling.
  • Ongoing coverage through credit cards. A number of credit cards provide travel insurance (like repatriation to America) to members. To find out if you have coverage, call the card’s Member Services hotline and ask about the coverage your card provides.

Want to Be Sure You Are Covered when Traveling Abroad?

CoverRight is on a mission to make the Medicare plan selection process easy to understand and help you find the best Medicare plans suited to your specific situation. If you want help assessing which plans might cover travel emergencies contact us today.

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Barry Lenson

Barry’s is an experienced writer who's most recent book projects have included "The Digital Health Revolution" and "Connecting Health Care," for which he served as writer and editor for the author Kevin Pereau. Barry’s own books include the self-help bestseller "Good Stress, Bad Stress." Barry writes blogs for Tortal Training, Ingage Consulting, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, and other clients.

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