Traveling with Medicare: What is Covered? | GoMedigap

Traveling with Medicare

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Medicare’s coverage of care when you travel depends on where you travel and how you receive your Medicare benefits. While never intended, some will find themselves in need of health care services when they are traveling. To avoid any potential stress and confusion, here are some things you need to know before taking off on your summer vacation…

Traveling Within the United States

If you have Original Medicare, you can travel anywhere in the U.S. and its territories and still be covered, as long as you use doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare. This includes:

  • All 50 states
  • The District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • The Northern Mariana Islands

Traveling Within the US with a Medicare Supplement

Because Medicare supplements cover their portion of Medicare-approved medical bills, you will receive the same coverage anywhere in the United States, and the territories listed above.

Traveling Within the US with a Medicare Advantage Plan

If you receive your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, instead of Original Medicare, the rules for out-of-state coverage are different and will depend on the type of Medicare Advantage plan you’re enrolled in.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan may not cover your care while you travel in the United States unless you need emergency or urgent care. Your plan may allow you to see providers that are outside of your network or area, but you may have to pay more for the care (except for emergency care). You may also need to follow other plan rules like obtaining prior authorization. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, contact your plan to see what rules and costs apply when you travel within the United States.

Traveling Internationally

If you will be traveling to a foreign country, Medicare will not usually cover your medical care.

However, Original Medicare must cover your medical care outside of the U.S. in the following limited cases:

  • If you have a medical emergency and the nearest hospital is a foreign hospital, instead of a U.S. hospital, Medicare will cover their portion of approved expenses.
  • If you are traveling through Canada or Alaska without unreasonable delay, have an illness or injury, and a Canadian hospital is closer than a U.S. hospital, Medicare will cover their portion of approved expenses. Medicare determines what an “unreasonable delay” is on a case-by-case basis.
  • If you live in the United States, but a foreign hospital is closer to your residence, Medicare will cover your health care services – regardless of whether it is an emergency or not.
  • Medicare will pay for medical care you get on a cruise ship if you get the care while the ship is in U.S. territorial waters. This means the ship is in a U.S. port or within six hours of arrival at or departure from a U.S. port.

Traveling Internationally with a Medicare Advantage Plan

If you are traveling overseas, Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, so you’ll be covered in the same limited situations described above. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may provide additional coverage when you are traveling outside of the United States. Check with your Medicare Advantage plan for more information.

Traveling Internationally with a Medicare Supplement

If you are traveling internationally, Medicare supplement plans C, D, F, G, M and N all provide coverage (up to plan limits) in Medicare emergency situations. If you have one of these plans, 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.

Medicare supplement foreign travel emergency coverage with Medicare supplement policies has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

Before you travel outside of the U.S., talk with your insurance agent to fully understand your Medigap coverage while traveling.

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18 Replies to “Traveling with Medicare”

  1. So if I am staying the majority of time in Houston Texas (taking care of grandson) can I still see my physicians in Omaha Nebraska as long as they take Medicare or do I have to see physicians here in Texas?

    1. Hi Ms. Swope,

      You can see any doctor that accepts Medicare. So, as long as you find both a doctor in Houston and Omaha that accept Medicare, you have the freedom to see both.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions!

  2. I am on Medicare and have a supplement Plan G-STD with New Era. I will be traveling to Egypt for 4 months. Am I covered for emergency past 60 days.

    1. Hi there,

      Medicare and your supplement will only cover services needed within the first 60 days. However, you can stack additional travel insurance on top of this to cover past that.

      Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  3. If I am on a cruise ship outside USA territorial waters or over 6 hours from port, and need to be treated on the ship, what coverage do I have from Medicare or Medicare Supplement?

    1. Hi there,

      If you are outside of the US or more than 6 hours away from a US port, you will not be covered by Medicare. However, your Medicare supplement will cover 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside the US after you meet a $250 deductible for the year.

      If you receive care on the cruise ship, just make sure you get a receipt for the services provided in order to file a claim.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Have a great day!

  4. If we need medical care in Scotland (2 weeks), will the hospital/doctor accept Meddicare and Supplement, or do we need pay and seek reimbursement upon returning to the US?

    1. Hi Mr. Schneier,

      Medicare will not cover you in this circumstance. However, if you have Medicare supplement Plan C, D, F, G, M or N, your foreign travel emergency expenses will be covered at 80%, up to a lifetime limit of $50,000.

      Once you are back, you will need to translate the receipt and currency, then file a claim with your insurance carrier. If you have any questions about how to do this, call your insurance company directly and they will be able to assist you and provide directions.

      I hope this answers your question. Enjoy Scotland!

  5. Would you please refresh my memory about what a Medicare Advantage Plan is? I got Medicare part A at age 65 but did not retire from my job and thus sign up for part B until I was 66. Is that what you refer to as Original Medicare? Thank you.

    1. Hi Mr. Boyd,

      Medicare Advantage is completely separate from Original Medicare. In fact, Medicare Advantage replaces Original Medicare.

      Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies. They cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers. Some Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage. In addition to your Part B premium, you’ll pay one monthly premium for the plan’s medical and prescription drug coverage (if drug coverage is included). While the premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are very affordable, your choice of doctors that Medicare Advantage will cover for is extremely limited. You also end up having to pay copays for each doctor visit.

      Because of this, we always recommend Medicare supplement coverage. Though you may pay more for your premium month-to-month, you receive very comprehensive coverage with little to no out-of-pocket expenses for doctor visits. Medicare supplements work in addition to Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Medicare will pay 80% of Medicare-approved expenses, then your supplement will cover the remaining 20%, along with deductibles and copays.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions. You can read more about Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements here: Your Options for Medicare Coverage

    1. Hi Pete,

      If possible, just send it to whichever home you reside in most often. Please let me know if you need anything else.

    1. Hi there,

      The prescription plans are nationwide, however it really comes down to the plan’s discretion. I’d recommend calling your Part D company directly for that answer as each plan’s have different restrictions.

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

  6. I currently have a Medigap N plan in Indiana and am being treated for prostate cancer.
    Treatment should end in November. I plan on retiring in March from Indiana to Florida and my current Medigap provider does not issue policies ion Florida.
    If I renew my current plan, will I also be covered in Florida after I move?
    I’m concerned that I may not find another company in Florida that will accept my application
    given my cancer background.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Medicare supplement plans offer nationwide coverage. Therefore, if you move, you will not have to choose a different plan. You can stay with the same plan that you currently have.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  7. My legal residence is in Mississippi and I also own a retirement home in Kentucky. My Plan A and B are issued for Mississippi. Can my coverages also be used in Kentucky or am I required to change plans?

    1. Hi Mr. Massey,

      With Medicare, you are able to see any doctor who accepts Medicare and you will receive coverage for any Medicare-approved expenses. Therefore, you can use your Medicare in both Kentucky and Mississippi, as long as you are visiting a doctor who agrees to accept Medicare.

      Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Have a great day!

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