Does Original Medicare Cover Overseas Travel?

Mike Olmos by Mike Olmos | Licensed since 2010
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This article was updated on: 02/27/2018

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Are you retired, on Medicare, and finally have time for some overseas travel? Here we’ll explore the benefits that Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) may provide when you’re traveling.

Original Medicare generally delivers the same medical coverage anywhere in the United States and all of its territories — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.   But what about overseas travel to other parts of the world? In general, Original Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for treatment received outside of the U.S and its territories.

Are there exceptions where Original Medicare might cover overseas travel?

There are some cases where Original Medicare may cover care received outside the United States and its territories.

  • You’re on a ship that’s within six hours of a U.S. port.
  • You’re traveling a direct route between Alaska and another state and have a medical emergency that requires you receive care in Canada.
  • A medical emergency occurs while you’re traveling in the United States, but the nearest hospital is in a foreign country — for example, across the border in Canada or Mexico.
  • You live in the U.S. and need hospital care (even if it’s not an emergency), but the nearest hospital is in a foreign country—for example, Canada or Mexico.

In these situations, Original Medicare may pay 80% of the allowed amount for covered services remaining after you have paid your deductible.  Unless you have other insurance, you may be responsible for the balance.  Please note that you may have to pay health-care providers at the time of service, and then file a claim with Medicare.

Would Medicare Supplement insurance cover overseas travel?

If you enjoy overseas travel, you might want to look into Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) insurance. This insurance is sold by private insurance companies, and may cover some of Original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles and copayments. In 47 states, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized with lettered names. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wyoming have differently standardized plans.

Medicare Supplement plans labeled C, D, F, G, M and N may cover emergency care during overseas travel, as long as medical care starts within 60 days of leaving the United States. The Medicare Supplement plan may pay 80% of the cost for covered services after you have paid a $250 deductible (as of 2018).  Medicare Supplement plans have a lifetime limit of $50,000 in 2018 for overseas travel care.

You need to be enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, to be eligible for a Medicare Supplement policy. If you’re interested in this type of insurance, you may save money on the plan costs if you buy your Medicare Supplement plan when you are first eligible for coverage.

Medicare Supplement Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer for sale, but if you bought one or these plans before June 1, 2010, you may usually keep it. All of these plans also provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage when you travel outside the U.S.

I enjoy overseas travel.  How do I get the coverage I need?

If you’re going to do some overseas travel, it may be wise to plan ahead. You may be able to get coverage– and peace of mind—for your overseas travel.  You might find an option with the coverage you want, beyond Original Medicare benefits. For example, depending on your situation, you might consider:

  • Travel insurance from a private insurance company.
  • Group health coverage. If you have group health coverage from your employer or union, check with the benefit administrator to see if the plan covers care you receive outside the U.S. and its territories.
  • Medicare Advantage. Some Medicare Advantage plans might include limited coverage for medical emergencies during overseas travel.

Do you want help understanding Original Medicare and other Medicare coverage options? I welcome the opportunity to work with you.

  • Use the links below to schedule a phone call or have me email information to you.
  • Begin by searching for plans in your service area by clicking the Compare Plans or Find Plans buttons on this page.
  • Give us a call and ask for me by name, or choose to speak to the next available licensed insurance agent: call 1-844-847-2660, TTY users 711; Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

The product and service descriptions, if any, provided on these Medicare.com Web pages are not intended to constitute offers to sell or solicitations in connection with any product or service. All products are not available in all areas and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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