Does Medicare Supplement cover Foreign Travel?

Original Medicare usually does not cover your medical care outside the United States, but there are some exceptions. The best way to get health coverage during the foreign travel is through your Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap plan). Medicare beneficiaries who are traveling outside the US and have no coverage must buy short-term travel insurance. Read below.

Original Medicare and Foreign Travel

Original Medicare provides health coverage outside of the U.S. only in the following limited cases:

  • You’re in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury.
  • You’re traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury.
  • You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.

In these situations, Medicare will pay only for the Medicare-covered services you get in a foreign hospital.

In the case of cruise ships, the health care services are provided if the  ship is in a U.S. port or no more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port when you get the services, regardless of whether it’s an emergency. There is no health coverage when the ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

Medicare Advantage and Coverage outside of the U.S.

Rules for health coverage outside of the U.S. for Medicare Advantage plans are similar to rules for Original Medicare. Some Medicare private health plans provide extended coverage. Check the costs and rules of your particular plan.

Medicare Supplement and Foreign Travel

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap Plans) provide the best opportunity for health care coverage outside the U.S. The plans include:

  • Standard Medigap Plans:  C, D, F, G, M, and N
  • Old Medigap Plans (that were bought before June 1, 2010): E, H, I, J

These plans pay 80% of the billed charges for medically necessary emergency care outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible per year.

Additional limitations include:

  • Benefits are applied only during first 60 days of any trip
  • There is a lifetime limit of $50, 000 for foreign travel emergency coverage

Read more in Government Publication Medicare Coverage Outside the United States.

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