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How to get coverage for international travel on Medicare

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Question: Do I get Medicare coverage if I travel abroad?

In general, Original Medicare doesn’t pay for health care services outside of the U.S. There are some specific exceptions such as when you’re on a cruise ship less than 6 hours away, traveling to Alaska, or needing Medicare care in Mexico or Canada because it’s the closest medical facility to you.

These are your options for coverage:

  1. Many Medicare Supplement Plans provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage outside of the US. These plans will pay 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside of the US. There is a $250 annual deductible and the care must begin during the first 60 days of your trip. There is also a $50,000 lifetime limit.
  2. Many Medicare Advantage HMO plans offer international Emergency and Urgent Care worldwide, usually with a co-pay. As an example, one of the carriers we work with charges $80 for Emergency Care worldwide, $0 if admitted immediately, and $40 for Urgent Care worldwide.
  3. For shorter trips, you can get private travel insurance before your trip to make sure you’re covered. Many credit cards also come with travel and trip insurance, so you should double check to see which credit card is most advantageous to use.
  4. If you are retiring abroad, technically Medicare Advantage plans disenroll you once you have lived outside of the plan service area for 6 months. I’m of the opinion that if you have a valid US address, it would be unlikely that you would be disenrolled. Therefore, you could choose an inexpensive plan that ensures that you aren’t penalized long term of for dropping Medicare Parts B and D of 10% monthly for B or 1% monthly for D.

Our take: For short term travel, you are generally covered for emergencies. If you are considering living abroad for a longer period of time, you are best off considering the local healthcare options, as the options from Medicare are limited by nature and suited to short term travel rather than longer term travel.

Have any questions?
Just get in touch with one of our Heroes that would be happy to help you! We are unbiased independent brokers contracted with all of the major health insurance companies. We are 100% free to you and the prices are the same as if you went directly to the health insurance companies, but with us as your Medicare concierge we can continue to guide you in your journey.

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