Are you planning a summer trip to Europe? Finally going on an African safari now that you’re retired? We hope you have some great vacation time planned, but we really hope you stay safe while you’re out there enjoying yourself! For the most part, Original Medicare will only cover your care that occurs within the United States (including Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and The Northern Marina Islands), so it’s important to think about your healthcare options before you head abroad.
Original Medicare overseas coverage is extremely limited, but you will be covered if:
- If you are in the U.S. during a medical emergency but a foreign hospital is closer
- If you are in Canada on a direct route to Alaska (and far from an American hospital)
- If you’re on a cruise ship and less than six hours from an American port
- If you have a Medicare Advantage plan with foreign coverage
- If you have a Medicare Supplement with foreign travel insurance
Do you have the coverage you need in case you get sick or injured while you’re out of the United States?
Medicare Advantage Foreign Travel Coverage
Private insurance carriers offer Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to add additional benefits to your Medicare coverage (and may include coverage abroad). Original Medicare only covers hospital and limited medical expenses, but MA plans can include dental, vision, meal delivery, fitness classes, and even foreign travel coverage.
There are thousands of MA plans to choose from, but not all of them include Medicare overseas coverage. MA plans are different in every state, county, and zip code. Reach out to us for more information on what’s available in your area.
Medicare Supplements Foreign Travel Insurance
Like MA plans, Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans also offer coverage beyond Original Medicare. The difference is that MA plans cover medical expenses, but Medigap plans cover expenses such as deductibles and coinsurance. You cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan if you have a MA plan, so it’s smart to talk to a licensed agent to find out which type of plan is best for your budget and lifestyle.
Medigap plans D, E, G, H, I, J, M, and N may cover up to 80 percent of your overseas costs if you meet the plan’s foreign travel deductible (plans C and F include this benefit as well but will be removed from the market in 2020). The expenses will only be covered if they occur within the first two months of your stay overseas, provided Original Medicare doesn’t already cover them. These Medigap plans come with a $50,000 lifetime limit on overseas travel insurance benefits.
How to Prepare for Traveling Abroad
Unfortunately, our planet is covered in bacteria and viruses that can harm our bodies. Those bacteria and viruses don’t live everywhere, though, which means our immune systems haven’t been exposed to them. Therefore, our bodies don’t know how to fight foreign diseases. That’s why you need vaccinations for foreign diseases before you leave the country.
Visit your primary care physician and tell them where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Medicare will cover your pre-vacation doctor visit where he or she will give you a list of vaccinations to consider.
Along with getting the proper vaccinations before you travel, your doctor may recommend you bring medications for common illnesses you may find at your destination, or for other things that may ail you during your trip. For example, let’s say you’re going on a tropical cruise. Your doctor may recommend you bring mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and motion sickness medicine.
If you have concerns about serious injuries or illnesses during your vacation, consider purchasing a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that has coverage for foreign healthcare. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your treatment will be covered.
We Can Help
If you’re planning on traveling to an area where Original Medicare won’t cover your medical treatment, you might want to consider purchasing a plan with foreign travel insurance. If you have questions about Medicare overseas coverage, call an agent at 833-438-3676 or contact us here. We hope you stay safe and enjoy your travels!
This post was originally published on June 01, 2017, and was updated by Troy Frink on May 20, 2019.