Medicare Coverage for Overseas Travel

School of Social Security & Medicare

A retired couple riding a motorcycle while on vacation in a foreign country.

Summer travel season is here. If your plans include overseas destinations, you have more things to accomplish than planning an exciting itinerary. The most important of those things is understanding the limitations of your Medicare coverage in foreign countries.

You may not know this, but Medicare usually doesn’t cover your health expenses in foreign countries. In fact, many retirees who don’t plan appropriately end up with massive bills when they need care while traveling abroad. But don’t worry! If you plan appropriately, you can secure medical coverage that works wherever you are traveling.

Medicare Usually Doesn’t Cover Your Healthcare Expenses When Traveling Outside the U.S.A.

Medicare Parts A and B usually don’t cover your healthcare costs while you are traveling abroad – with a few exceptions. On the rare occasions that they do, you will likely need to submit an itemized bill to Medicare to be reimbursed. That’s because foreign hospitals usually can’t be compelled to file a Medicare claim for you.

For the purposes of determining Medicare coverage eligibility, the “United States” includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. Outside of these areas, Medicare will cover your costs in three scenarios:

  • You are in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and a foreign hospital is closer than the nearest American hospital that can treat you.
  • You’re travelling the most direct route between Alaska and another U.S. state when an emergency occurs, and a Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest American hospital that can treat you.
  • You live in the U.S. and a foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest American hospital that can treat you, regardless of whether an emergency has occurred.

Additionally, Medicare may cover your healthcare costs outside of the U.S. if you are traveling by boat. This coverage applies if the ship’s doctor is legally allowed to perform medical services aboard a cruise ship and you are within 6 hours of a U.S. port.

Medicare Supplement Insurance May Cover Overseas Travel

While Medicare Parts A and B only cover international medical care in limited circumstances, your supplemental Medicare coverage may cover some of your costs. This coverage for overseas travel varies depending on the type of policy you have.

Medigap Coverage During International Travel

Some Medigap plans – Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N – cover emergency healthcare services in a foreign country. With these plans, you must meet a $250 annual deductible before Medigap coverage begins. After the deductible is paid, the Medigap plan will cover 80% of the costs for medically necessary emergency care up to a $50,000 lifetime limit. To qualify for Medigap coverage, you must be within the first 60 days of an international trip.

Other Medigap plans – Plans K and L – do not offer international travel coverage. If you have one of these types of plans, you are responsible for any medical expenses acquired in a foreign country. Another important point to consider is Medicare drug plans don’t cover prescriptions when you purchase them outside of the U.S.

Medicare Advantage Coverage in a Foreign Country

Since Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the coverage of Medicare Parts A and B, they cover the three limited scenarios outlined previously. Outside of those circumstances, travel coverage will vary by plan.

If you plan to travel outside of the U.S. frequently during your retirement, international medical coverage can be a significant factor in your healthcare decisions. To ensure you choose a Medicare supplement plan that meets your needs, discuss your options with a trusted financial advisor. An experienced financial professional can help you choose the right plan for your situation and budget.

Review Your Medicare Coverage with an Advisor at Meld Financial

The team of tax, legal, and investment professionals at Meld Financial has been helping clients achieve their retirement goals for nearly four decades. We have the experience to answer your most pressing retirement questions – including how to choose the right Medicare supplement plan for your situation.

Our team will work with you to develop your Financial Fingerprint™ – a comprehensive wealth management plan that is quick to assemble, easy to understand, and simple to modify as your circumstances change. This plan considers common risks to your retirement, including unexpected medical costs. With your Financial Fingerprint™ and a Meld advisor, you can embark on your next journey with confidence.

To learn more about Financial Fingerprint™ and get started today, contact us.

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