Foreign travel and Medicare might be on your mind if you are nearing 65 years of age. One of the greatest benefits of retirement is the freedom to travel. Many retirees look forward to an open schedule of traveling both within and outside the United States. You’ve earned this time to relax and unwind while visiting foreign lands.
Now, in order to keep that relaxing mood, you might be wondering if you are covered under Medicare while traveling. This is definitely a loaded question as there are many variables. It all depends on what type of Medicare coverage you have and where you are traveling to. Let’s explore traveling and Medicare to see if you are covered.
Medicare Domestic Travel: Medigap vs. Advantage
When it comes to traveling domestically with Medicare, there is just one solid difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage. If you have a Medigap plan, you will be covered anywhere in the United States, so long as the facility or hospital accepts Original Medicare.
When it comes to Medicare Advantage, there is a tight-knit network. That means if you need care beyond your network, your Medicare Advantage plan will not cover it.
Medicare Foreign Travel with Medigap
If you’re seeking emergency health care services or supplies outside of the United States, your Medigap policy might have you covered with additional coverage. Medicare foreign travel with Medigap is simple.
When traveling outside of the U.S., foreign travel emergency health coverage is provided by Standard Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N.
Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer available for purchase, but if you enrolled before June 1, 2010, you’re able to keep your existing plan. These plans also offer foreign travel emergency health coverage for when you’re outside of the U.S.
By choosing one of the standard Medigap plans, such as Plan F, which includes Foreign Travel benefits, travelers can enjoy peace of mind while abroad. The plan covers up to 80% of emergency medical costs beyond a $250 deductible.
However, there are some restrictions to this benefit. The coverage is only valid for the first 60 days of your international travels and has a lifetime cap of $50,000, which can be quickly exhausted in some cases. If you plan to be outside of the U.S. for an extended period, it’s recommended to consult with your travel agent to explore short-term medical plans that provide additional emergency benefits for international travel.
Medicare Foreign Travel with Advantage
Traveling may not feel like such a breeze if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare foreign travel with Advantage is more restrictive. There are many times when a Medicare Advantage plan will step in and help out with your health-related costs. There are three certain scenarios where Medicare will step in. Let’s review these situations.
Firstly, if you’re in the U.S. during a medical emergency and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that’s able to provide treatment.
Secondly, if you’re traveling through Canada between Alaska and another state and a medical emergency occurs without any unreasonable delay, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat you. Medicare will determine on a case-by-case basis what constitutes “without unreasonable delay.”
Lastly, if you reside in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can provide treatment, regardless of whether you have a medical emergency.
It’s important to note that in these scenarios, Medicare will only cover the services that are typically covered by Medicare and are received in a foreign hospital.
Medicare Foreign Travel and Plan D
It’s essential to understand how your Medicare Part D drug plan will cover you if you’re traveling outside the country, especially if you have prescription coverage through it. While Part D plans cover you within the United States and have limited coverage near the U.S. border, there is no coverage for prescription drugs obtained from foreign pharmacies.
If you’re planning to travel abroad, it’s important to check your prescription needs in advance and ensure that you have enough medication to last throughout your trip. You may also be able to get a prescription refill before leaving by informing your pharmacy of your travel plans.
While Medicare may provide international coverage in specific situations, we recommend that you consider purchasing traveler insurance when traveling abroad for an extended period.
Medicare and foreign travel should be a breeze if you understand how your plan works. You will definitely have more flexibility with a Medigap plan. Medicare may step in to cover emergencies, but it is always best to discuss your travel plans with your Medicare broker to ensure you have the proper coverage for your trip!