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Does Medicare Cover International Travel?


Whether you plan on traveling within the United States or abroad, knowing just how far your Medicare coverage will extend is essential.

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If you have Original Medicare, Medicare Part A and Part B cover your medical bills within the U.S., including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and other U.S. territories.

For the most part, Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S. unless in an emergency. Below, we discuss which Medicare plans include foreign travel emergency benefits.

Does Medicare Cover Foreign Travel Emergencies?

Under certain circumstances, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) will cover foreign travel emergency care.

These situations include:

  • On a cruise ship, you will have medical coverage if the vessel is still in U.S. waters. This means the cruise ship must either be at a U.S. port or within six hours from one.
  • Traveling between Alaska and another state, when the closest hospital is in Canada. In this circumstance, Medicare will cover emergency services in Canada.
  • If your residence is closer to a hospital outside U.S. territory, Medicare may cover emergency or non-emergency inpatient care at the nearest hospital to your home.

Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Foreign Travel?

Medicare Supplement plans are a form of secondary insurance to cover the out-of-pocket costs Medicare Part A and Part B leave behind. These policies offset the prices you would pay out-of-pocket if you only had Original Medicare. With a Medicare Supplement plan, beneficiaries do not lose any benefits that come with Original Medicare.

Medicare Supplement plans include additional benefits providing foreign travel emergency coverage. Medicare Supplement Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, Plan G, Plan M, and Plan N provide emergency coverage in foreign countries. Additionally, Medigap High Deductible Plan F and High Deductible Plan G also include coverage overseas.

Medicare Supplement Plan A, Plan B, Plan K, and Plan L do not offer additional foreign travel emergency coverage.

Overview of Medicare Supplement foreign travel emergency coverage:

  • Carries a $250 deductible
  • Coverage only lasts the first 60 days of your trip
  • Your plan pays 80% of your medical bills while out of the country
  • The lifetime coverage limit is $50,000.

Your Medicare Supplement plan will provide foreign travel coverage if your health services are for emergencies. If you only have Original Medicare, you will not have this extra coverage outside the U.S.

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Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover International Travel?

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) are an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans often combine additional benefits to create all-in-one healthcare plans available through private insurance companies. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must adhere to a network of doctors and hospitals to receive coverage.

Medicare Advantage plans may provide foreign travel coverage outside the United States. Often, these Medicare Advantage plans restrict specific health services.

If you plan to travel outside of the country, it is essential to inform your carrier of your upcoming trip. They will then explain how your Medicare Advantage plan covers emergency travel benefits, if any, and how claims or reimbursement work with your policy.

If you travel outside your Medicare Advantage plan’s service locations for more than six months, the carrier may automatically disenroll you from the policy. It is always a good rule of thumb to check with your policy before travel to determine your Medicare Advantage plan’s limitations.

Do I Need Travel Insurance if I Have Medicare?

Since Original Medicare offers limited coverage outside of the U.S., purchasing a travel insurance policy may be necessary when visiting other countries.

Purchasing travel insurance while on Medicare will help cover emergency and non-emergency costs from situations that may arise overseas. Travel insurance benefits vary by policy and carrier.

When you purchase travel insurance, your policy will help cover international costs that Medicare does not cover. If you require healthcare and cannot make it back to the U.S., you will not need to pay out-of-pocket, as you would with Original Medicare.

So, suppose you have Original Medicare and plan to travel outside the country. In that case, enrolling in a travel insurance plan is essential to help cover unexpected health costs.

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How Does Original Medicare Work if You Live Overseas?

Original Medicare will not cover any medical services you receive overseas. So, if you are living overseas full-time, it makes sense to disenroll from Original Medicare. If Medicare Part A coverage is zero-premium for you, you can keep the coverage if you plan to return to the U.S.

If you travel back to the U.S. frequently, you may want to continue paying the monthly premium for Medicare Part B. However, you can only use those benefits within the United States and its territories.

Does Original Medicare Cover You on a Cruise Ship?

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) usually covers any medical care necessary while on a cruise ship, as long as the ship is still within U.S. waters or six hours from the nearest U.S. port.

If your cruise ship is farther than six hours out, you will not receive coverage from Original Medicare. The treating physician must also be legally licensed to provide medical care aboard a vessel.

Medicare and International Travel FAQs

Will Medicare pay for a travel CPAP machine?
When it comes to CPAP machines and other durable medical equipment, Medicare has precise criteria for coverage. If a CPAP device is medically necessary, Medicare will cover the costs depending on your health condition. However, Medicare will only cover one device within a certain timeframe, so if you require a travel CPAP, you may need to cover these costs out-of-pocket.
Will Medicare pay for a travel wheelchair?
Medicare Part B covers a travel wheelchair if your medical condition requires it. Travel wheelchairs fall into the category of durable medical equipment. Remember that you must receive a prescription from a licensed physician for Medicare to be aware that your travel wheelchair is a medical necessity and provide coverage.
What are the Medicare guidelines for travel oxygen?
Original Medicare will not provide oxygen coverage for your trip if you are traveling. You may rent an oxygen concentrator from a supplier.
Should I take my Medicare card to Europe?
There is no reason to bring your Medicare card to Europe, as doctors in European countries will not accept your Medicare coverage as insurance.
Does Medicare Supplement Plan F cover foreign travel?
Medicare Supplement Plan F will cover up to $50,000 per lifetime for foreign travel emergencies. There is also a $250 deductible.
Does Medicare Supplement Plan G cover international travel?
The only international travel coverage that Medicare Supplement Plan G will provide above Original Medicare is emergency coverage. Like other Medicare Supplement plans that include this benefit, Medigap Plan G will cover up to $50,000 per lifetime with a $250 deductible.

How to Travel International with Medicare

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Sources:

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Medicare Coverage Outside the United States, Medicare. Accessed May 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11037-Medicare-Coverage-Outside-United-States.pdf
  2. Travel Outside the U.S., Medicare. Accessed May 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel-outside-the-u.s.

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

8 thoughts on “Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

  1. I am a 70 year old healthy female traveling to vietnam from dfw from 20th Jan to 4th Feb and need a quote for medical insurance. Can you help me

    1. Hi Gillian! Yes, of course, we can help you with that! What Medicare coverage are you currently enrolled in? Give us a call at your earliest convenience.

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