Does Medicare Cover You While You Travel?


Planning for retirement often means planning years of leisurely travel and new, adventurous experiences. For retirees, travel planning includes financial planning, what to pack,  and how to arrange healthcare.

Many retired Americans are enrolled in Medicare and have some sort of supplemental coverage such as a Medigap plan or Medicare Advantage plan. So how exactly do these plans cover you as you travel?

Original Medicare Coverage and Domestic Travel


Traveling from state-to-state in America, Original Medicare travels with you. Under Original Medicare, you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare because there are no networks within Original Medicare.

No matter where you go, you can use your Medicare if you need medical care.

Original Medicare Coverage and International Travel


Coverage under Original Medicare when traveling internationally is a bit more complicated than traveling domestically. Certain circumstances have to be met in order for Original Medicare to cover you in a foreign hospital – meaning emergencies only.

In the event of an emergency that requires attention from a hospital, Original Medicare will cover you only if you are traveling through an international country and an American territory is your final destination. In other words, if you’ reen route from Alaska to Washington and you need emergency care while you’re in Canada, Medicare will cover you. However, if you’re just visiting a friend in Canada and need health care, Medicare doesn’t pay.

If an accident occurs and you need emergency care from a hospital, and a foreign hospital is closer than an American hospital, Original Medicare will most likely cover you.

Medicare Advantage Coverage and Domestic Travel


One important thing to note about Medicare Advantage plans is that they are completely separate from Original Medicare and have networks you must stay within when seeking care. Under this form of coverage, Medicare Advantage pays for your benefits, not Original Medicare.

Since Medicare Advantage plans have networks of healthcare providers, your options are a bit more limited than Original Medicare. You are usually only covered by your plan if you see a doctor who accepts your Medicare Advantage plan. However, some plans have an out-of-network benefit that offers some coverage when you travel outside of your network. The good news is that many Medicare Advantage plans have national networks, so you may find a participating provider when you’re traveling away from home.

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Medicare Advantage Coverage and International Travel


Not all Medicare Advantage plans are the same. Each plan has the ability to offer different benefits and areas of coverage. However, the great thing about Advantage plans is that the majority of them offer some form of foreign travel emergency coverage.

The foreign coverage may not be as comprehensive as you would like when traveling internationally, so additional short-term travel insurance can be beneficial.

Medigap Coverage and Domestic Travel


Medigap plans (also known as Medicare Supplement plans) serve as secondary coverage to Original Medicare. These plans pay after Original Medicare to help cut your out-of-pocket expenses such as the Part A deductible and Part B coinsurance. Any hospital or healthcare provider that accepts Original Medicare must also accept Medigap.

Rules for traveling domestically with Medigap and Original Medicare are the same. Original Medicare will cover 80 percent of the medical expenses, the Medigap will pay its 20 percent of coverage.

Medigap Coverage and International Travel


The majority of Medigap plans come with foreign travel emergency benefits. Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M, and N offer a foreign travel emergency benefit that allows the plan to pay up to 80 percent of your foreign emergency bill.

However, this Medigap benefit is only available within the first 60 days of international travel. If you have been out of the country for more than 60 days, Medigap won’t cover you. There is also an annual deductible of $250 and a lifetime limit of $50,000.

Traveling with Medicare can be tricky depending on where you travel and what kind of plan you have. When planning a vacation where you think you may need medical attention, always contact your provider to confirm how you are covered.

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