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Does Medicare Cover Foreign Travel?

It’s crucial to know how Medicare travel reimbursement works before you travel abroad so that you can prepare properly. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t provide coverage outside of the U.S. in most circumstances.

What Countries Accept U.S. Medicare?

Medicare will help cover you in some emergencies while you’re abroad, but you shouldn’t rely on it to work as it does in the U.S. You can only use your Medicare benefits as usual in the United States and its territories such as:

  • Puerto Rico
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • The Northern Mariana Islands

Outside of the United States, your coverage under Medicare will be limited to emergency situations.

What Situations Qualify for Medicare Coverage While Traveling Abroad? 

Medicare doesn’t cover most routine healthcare services outside of the U.S. and its territories. However, exceptions may be made for emergency care under the following circumstances:

  • A medical condition occurs while you’re in the U.S., but the nearest hospital is in a foreign country
  • An emergency occurs while you’re traveling through Canada by a direct route between Alaska and another state, and a Canadian hospital is the nearest alternative
  • The best option to treat your condition is one located in a foreign country

What Will Medicare Cover While You’re Traveling?

Medicare provides some coverage for the same emergency expenses overseas as it does in the U.S.  If your expense isn’t covered by Medicare in the U.S., like prescription medications, it won’t be covered abroad either.

Medical travel reimbursement is also provided at the same rate that Medicare covers services in the United States. You’ll most likely be responsible for your typical copayment or coinsurance. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, it may help you with some of the Medicare-approved expenses.   

Will Medicare Pay for Medical Services Received on a Cruise Ship?

Medicare may approve medically necessary health services provided on a cruise ship if you’re docked in a U.S. port, or if you’re no more than six hours away from one when you receive treatment.

Which Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Foreign Travel?

If you have Medicare Supplement Plan C, D, F, G, M, or N, you have additional protection for overseas travel. It’s important to note that you only have a $50,000-lifetime reserve towards expenses incurred while abroad, and once you’ve been out of the U.S. longer than 60 days, you’re no longer covered by your supplement. You also have a $250 yearly deductible that you’ll need to meet before your plan kicks in. Just like in the U.S., your Medicare Supplement plan will only pay if Medicare pays.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Work Overseas?

Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage outside the United States. Advantage plan benefits vary by plan and carrier, so you should contact your carrier directly for more information.

Because Medicare offers very little coverage if you’re traveling outside of the country, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance can help lower the risk that you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for services that Medicare won’t approve if you get sick and need medical treatment.

Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

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