Many people love to use their retirement years for going on vacations and traveling both in the United States and abroad. However, medical emergencies can still come up even when traveling, so it’s important to know what coverage to expect from Medicare. Here are five facts on vacations and Medicare to get you started.
- Original Medicare covers you throughout the U.S. and its territories
When it comes to traveling within the U.S., Original Medicare has you covered. If you’re someone who has Original Medicare as primary insurance, then traveling within the U.S. or a U.S territory shouldn’t be a concern as long as the doctor accepts Medicare. U.S. territories include American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
However, this is not always the case when traveling. In most international situations, Original Medicare will not cover healthcare services. There are a few specific situations where it might help cover services, but it’s best to assume that Original Medicare won’t provide coverage when traveling internationally.
- Medigap plans will only pay for emergencies for the first 60 days outside of the U.S.
Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M, and N, can cover emergency care when traveling abroad. Once you pay a $250 deductible, Medicare will pay for 80% of medical emergency costs while you pay for the remaining 20% coinsurance.
However, there are two limitations to Medigap emergency coverage. First, if you spend more than 60 days out of the country, the coverage will no longer be valid, and your Medigap coverage will stop. Second, the emergency coverage provided by these Medigap plans is limited to a lifetime benefit of $50,000. Once you’ve used up the $50,000, there is no more. It’s essential to keep these rules in mind, especially if you’re someone who travels outside of the U.S. for more extended periods.
- You can’t travel outside your Medicare Advantage network for more than six months
Most Medicare Advantage plans can provide coverage in emergencies when traveling outside of the U.S. However, Medicare Advantage plans do operate within specific networks. If you’re traveling abroad, then you’re clearly outside of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area. Being outside a plan’s service area can also apply to travel within the U.S. or U.S. territories. Whether you’re abroad or in the U.S., Medicare may kick you out of your plan after six months of traveling outside your service area.
- Medicare Part D will not provide medical coverage overseas
Unlike the other parts of Medicare, Medicare Part D does not provide any coverage for prescription medications when purchased outside of the U.S. or any U.S. territories. When traveling abroad, you should be prepared to pay for 100% of any prescription drugs when visiting an international pharmacy.
It’s best to make sure that you have enough of your medications before traveling. This way, you shouldn’t have to purchase any prescriptions from an international pharmacy.
- Hospitals outside of the U.S. are not required to bill Medicare
In the U.S., doctors will bill Medicare so that Medicare can pay their portion of a bill. However, international healthcare providers are not required to do this. Many seniors do not consider this when receiving medical treatment abroad, but it’s something to keep in mind. You’ll want to make sure that you’re keeping track of any medical services you receive while traveling abroad, just in case.
As a rule, it’s best to speak with your carrier or insurance agent before you travel outside of the U.S. This way, you can be better prepared for what you may need to pay in case of a medical emergency. Know and learn what options are available so you can enjoy vacationing to the fullest!