A commonly asked question is "How does Medicare work if I'm traveling outside the U.S.?". Now that you have more time to start tackling your travel "Bucket List", it is important to understand how you will or will not be covered in the event of a medical emergency outside the United States.
There is often a high level of confusion around how Medicare works when traveling abroad. The good news is that a little proactive planning can ensure your potential healthcare needs are effectively addressed before you jump on a plane or hit the open road.
Medicare Coverage Outside The U.S.
In most cases, Medicare does not provide benefits while traveling outside of the United States. However, there are a few special exceptions where your care would be covered.
Benefits Under Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plans
Those who have selected Original Medicare likely purchased a Medicare Supplement
(a.k.a. Medigap) plan as well. Plans lettered C, D, F, G, M and N all offer foreign emergency benefits. However, the coverage is not comprehensive and tends to be fairly limited. Coverage is available for the first sixty (60) days of your trip and the plan pays 80% of the necessary emergency care expenses. You will pay a $250 deductible and then 20% of the approved costs, which are subject to a $50,000 lifetime maximum. You will be fully responsible for any care that would not normally be covered under Medicare. It's also important to note that this coverage does not apply to emergency medical evacuation, which can exceed $100,000 depending on location and severity of your health condition.
Individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan may have foreign travel benefits included as part of their plan offering. Benefits can vary by plan, so be sure to check with your insurance provider for coverage details. Remember, you may not purchase a Medigap policy if you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage.
Alternative Solutions for Protection While Traveling
Regardless of how you receive your Medicare benefits, we can probably agree that it is not the "go-to" option for traveling abroad. A serious medical emergency away from home can add more complexity and stress to an already difficult situation. Fortunately, there are some great alternative solutions available to ensure your healthcare needs are met and well covered.
Plan Wisely & Have Fun!
A trip to a foreign country often takes a lot of planning. Don't overlook the important details of how you will handle an unexpected emergency. While you may have some coverage as part of your Medicare benefits, they clearly are not sufficient in covering moderate to severe healthcare issues while outside the United States. So, plan wisely and bon voyage!
Disclosure: Boomer Benefit Planning LLC is not affiliated with or compensated by the companies referenced in this article. All content is provided for educational and informational purposes only.