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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

MedicareFAQ is here to help you find the best plan with the most coverage. Call our team today for a quote in just minutes!

If you simply want to verify your current Medicare Supplement plan has travel emergency benefits, we can help. We also have an online rate form that you can use to compare rates in your area now.

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.
David Haass

David Haass

David Haass is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. He is a member and regular contributor to Forbes Finance Council and stay up-to-date with the latest Medicare trends and changes. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from the University of Florida.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

12 thoughts on "Does Medicare Cover International Travel?"

  1. My wife and I are permanent residents in Mexico. We will keep our Medicare Part A & B, and have an air ambulance service to get us back to the US if needed. What would you recommend for emergency coverage while living here.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Robert. Unfortunately, there is no type of Medicare coverage available if you’re a permanent resident of Mexico. You will only be able to get coverage for healthcare services in the United States. Medicare Supplement plans cover up to 80% of emergency medical care if you’re traveling outside of the U.S. but not if you live outside the U.S. permanently.

    1. Hi Linda! You can enroll in Original Medicare, but you will not be covered for any medical services you receive outside of the United States. Medicare coverage only works within the U.S. and its territories, such as Puerto Rico. However, if you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you may be able to receive emergency care abroad up to the plans limit.

  2. I’m trying to learn about medical TRANSPORTATION coverage with my Plan F while traveling outside the U.S. I understand the $50,000 coverage for medical expenses, but, open market travel insurance specifically covers medical transportation. For example, Allianz Travel Insurance provides $1,000,000 in emergency transportation coverage.

    1. Hi Marshall, you can certainly pick up travel insurance in addition to your Plan F for extra protection if you choose to.

  3. Spending 2 months in Canada this Summer. Staying with my sister. Her husband is a retired Surgeon. What I need is a policy for coverage while I am there. I am 84 years old in great health. Play tennis, not senile. Traveling from Atlanta Ga. to St. John”s Newfoundland Canada

    1. Hi Gloria! Medigap plans C-N cover foreign travel emergency. The only plans that do not cover foreign travel are Plans A & B.

    1. Hi Deb! As stated above, Part A & B does not cover any medical services outside U.S. territories. To get emergency coverage while in Thailand and Bhutan, you would need to enroll in one of the supplemental plans that include foreign travel emergency coverage. However, it will not cover the cost of your flight home. Remember, you’ll only have coverage for emergency care for the first 60 days you’re overseas.

  4. 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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