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Medicare and Travel – What to be Aware of

Medicare and Travel – What to be Aware of

November 21, 2020

Retirement evokes different dreams for everyone, but for many, travel is part of the image. If travel is part of your retirement vision, before you leave town, it’s important be aware of whether Medicare coverage will protect you while traveling. In the event it does not, you may want to consider purchasing a Medigap policy to protect you along the way. Here are some general Medicare coverage details to consider when planning travel:

Domestic Travel - With Original Medicare Plans, you’re covered anywhere in the US and its territories as long as you visit a doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may not be eligible to receive care outside of your service area without prior authorization for an out-of-town, out-of-network doctor or be forced to pay the fees on your own. Emergency care can still be obtained without incurring additional costs.

It’s important to note, if you spend more than six continuous months of the year outside your Medicare Advantage Plan’s service area, you could be automatically disenrolled from your plan. At this juncture, you will have to wait until a Special Enrollment Period to choose another Part C plan or you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare.

Foreign Travel - For those looking to add stamps to your passport, here are a few things to keep in mind. Medicare does not cover medical care received outside the US unless you are:

  • Traveling between Alaska and another state and require emergency services in Canada during travel.
  • You need medical care on a cruise ship, and you receive care while in U.S. territorial waters.
  • You require non-emergency inpatient services in a foreign hospital and that hospital is closer to your residence than another US hospital. This is applicable for those who live on the border of Canada and Mexico, for example.

Medigap - If you’re adding a Medigap plan to supplement your Original Medicare, Medigap plan design options provide coverage for medical emergencies outside the United States. Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N cover medical emergencies while traveling, as long as medical care starts within 60 days of leaving the United States. Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer available for purchase, but provide foreign emergency care as well.

With a Medigap plan that covers foreign travel emergencies, the patient pays a $250 deductible plus 20% coinsurance, and there’s a lifetime benefit maximum of $50,000.

Hopefully you never have a medical emergency when traveling but thorough planning can save a lot of headaches, wherever your journey takes you. If you have questions on planning for your retirement health care costs and plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


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