People with Original Medicare can travel anywhere in the United States and all of its territories and still have access to medical care from most any doctor or hospital. This means that if you are travelling to the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico or any other American territory, you are covered! But what about foreign travel for people on Medicare? Does Medicare cover international travel?
Medicare generally does not provide for care outside of the U.S. There are some limited exceptions, such as care on a cruise ship while in U.S. territorial waters or emergency care that occurs while you are en route to the U.S. and the closest hospital is in another country, such as Canada. However, it’s best to plan ahead and not assume any benefits from Medicare while you are outside of the country.
So how can you protect yourself if you have travel plans out of the country? Fortunately, both types of Medicare health insurance options offer some foreign travel emergency benefits.
Medicare Foreign Travel with Medicare Advantage
Most Medicare Advantage plans provide you with worldwide emergency coverage. In many cases, a foreign hospital will bill your plan for you so you want to travel with your Medicare Advantage card. There is a chance that foreign healthcare providers will not bill your carrier. If that happens, you should keep receipts for all of your care. Your insurance agent can help you submit these to the Medicare Advantage company for reimbursement when you return home.
Again, let’s remember that is for emergency care. This coverage is designed for unexpected circumstances, not for routine doctor visits while you are out of the country.
Foreign Travel under Medigap Plans C, D, F, G & N
Some Medicare beneficiaries don’t like Medicare Advantage plans due to network restrictions or a favorite doctor who doesn’t participate in that plan. These individuals might choose to stay on Original Medicare. If they choose one of the ten standard Medigap plans, like Plan F, that offer Foreign Travel benefits, they can travel without worry. The plan will pay up to 80% of your medical emergency costs after a $250 deductible.
This benefit has some limits though. It will only pay for emergencies during the first 60 days that you are out of the country. It is also limited to a lifetime benefit of $50,000 though, and that can add up quickly. If you plan to be out of the U.S. for an extended period, we generally recommend that you visit your travel agent to learn about some of the short-term medical plans that are designed to give you extra emergency benefits while on international travel.