If you plan to see the world in your retirement years, it’s important to know what Medicare will – and won’t – cover when you are traveling. Original Medicare Parts A and B will pay most of your medical expenses while you are in the U.S. But if you need emergency medical care in a foreign country, Original Medicare won’t pay for it. Nor will Medicare Part D pay for prescription drugs outside the U.S.
To protect yourself, you need foreign travel insurance for seniors with Medicare. A Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policy may be the answer to get supplemental health insurance for overseas travel.
Does Medicare Cover Foreign Travel?
Medicare pays for medical care in the United States, including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
There are a few situations where Medicare will pay 80 percent of the cost of your emergency care outside the U.S.
- On a cruise ship, if you are no more than six hours from a U.S. port.
- If you are driving a direct route between Alaska and the continental U.S, “without unreasonable delay”
- If you get sick in the U.S. but the nearest hospital that can treat you is in another country
- If you live in the U.S. but the closest hospital to your home is in another country
This means that unless you are on a short cruise or on your way to Alaska, Medicare will not pay for your emergency treatment while you are traveling in another country. That’s where Medicare Supplements can help with overseas Medicare insurance.
How Can I Get a Medicare Supplement for Overseas Travel?
A Medigap policy picks up where Original Medicare leaves off, providing additional coverage to pay deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance and other things that would be your responsibility if you only had Original Medicare.
There are 10 standard Medigap plans, and six of them cover foreign travel emergency care, up to plan limits: Plans C, D, F (including High Deductible Plan F), G, M and N. Older Medigap plans E, H, I and J also provide foreign travel coverage, but these plans aren’t sold anymore. However, some people continue to have coverage through them.
The best time to enroll in a Medigap plan is during the six-month Open Enrollment Period around the time you sign up for Medicare. If you enroll during this time, you are Medicare Supplement guaranteed issue rights and you can’t be charged more because of your health. If you enroll later or change your plan, you may pay more or even be denied coverage. This means it’s a good idea to think about travel coverage when you are first eligible to buy a Medigap plan.
What Will a Medigap Plan Cover Outside the U.S.?
Medicare Medigap coverage outside the U.S. is designed to protect you in an emergency. That means it can cover your emergency care if you break your leg while hiking in the Himalayas, but it will not pay for you to have your routine colonoscopy done in France.
Travel Insurance for Seniors with Medicare includes these features:
- It covers any foreign travel emergency that begins during the first 60 days of your trip
- It has a $250 deductible
- It pays 80 percent of the billed fee for medically necessary emergency care
- It has a lifetime limit of $50,000.
If you plan to take extended trips you may need separate travel insurance. Retirees living overseas may need private insurance or may be able to buy into an insurance plan in the country where they’re living. If you plan to travel to foreign countries, make sure to get a Medigap plan that has Medicare coverage overseas for foreign travel emergencies.
Get an Online Quote for Medicare Supplements for Overseas Travel
MedicareFAQ can help you find the right plan at the best price by searching dozens of options from top-rated insurers. Make sure to check out our Frequently Asked Questions section for more information on Medicare Supplements. Give us a call today to get a quote, or compare rates online by completing our rate form here now!