Whether you plan on traveling within the United States or abroad, it is important to know just how far your Medicare coverage will extend.
If you have Original Medicare, Medicare Part A and Part B cover your medical bills within the U.S. This includes 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 what Medicare plans include foreign travel emergency benefits.
Does My Medicare Plan Cover Foreign Travel Emergencies?
Under certain circumstances, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) will cover foreign travel emergency care.
These situations include:
- If you are traveling 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.
- If you are traveling between Alaska and another state, and the closest hospital is in Canada, 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 closest 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 costs 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. 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 any additional foreign travel emergency coverage.
Medicare Supplement plans foreign travel emergency coverage overview:
- Foreign travel emergency coverage carries a $250 deductible
- You only have coverage for the first 60 days of your trip
- Plan pays 80% of your medical bills while out of the country
- Has a lifetime coverage limit amount of $50,000.
Your Medicare Supplement plan will provide foreign travel coverage as long as your health services are for emergencies. If you only have Original Medicare, you will not have coverage outside the U.S. in most cases.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover International Travel?
Medicare Advantage plans, or Medicare Part C, are an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans often combine additional benefits to create all-in-one healthcare plans. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you typically must adhere to a network of doctors and hospitals to receive coverage.
If you are traveling outside of the United States, Medicare Advantage plans may provide foreign travel coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans provide foreign travel coverage for emergency health services outside of the U.S. Often, these Medicare Advantage plans place restrictions on 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 plan. It is always a good rule of thumb to check with your policy before any travel to determine your Medicare Advantage plan’s limitations.
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 still 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 (Medicare Part A and Part B) usually cover any medical care necessary while on a cruise ship, as long as the cruise ship is still within U.S. waters or six hours from the nearest U.S. port.
If your cruise ship is further than 6 hours out, you will not receive coverage from Original Medicare. Additionally, the treating physician must also be legally licensed to provide medical care aboard a vessel.
Medicare Travel FAQs
How to Travel with Medicare
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- Medicare Coverage Outside the United States, Medicare. Accessed May 2022.
- Travel Outside the U.S., Medicare. Accessed May 2022.