Although traveling can be exciting, it is important to be prepared for a potential health emergency. This means understanding your coverage and how it will work if you are out of the county, state, or country. Medicare insurance has various parts and plans, so you will want to know how each covers you while traveling.
Original Medicare coverage when traveling
Original Medicare is Part A, and Part B. Part A is inpatient hospital coverage and Part B is medical outpatient coverage. If you’re admitted as an inpatient when you travel, Part A covers your care. Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services as long as the provider accepts Medicare.
Medicare coverage travels with you. You can use Original Medicare anywhere in the country if the doctor or hospital accepts Medicare.
However, Medicare typically does not cover you outside the U.S. There are some exceptions to this, such as if you are on a ship within the United States’ territorial waters. Medicare may also pay for services in a foreign country but there are specific criteria and requirements that must be met. For example, if you have a medical emergency that needs immediate action, you can go to a foreign hospital to get treatment if it is closer than the nearest U.S hospital. Otherwise, you pay 100% of the costs for services outside the U.S.
Medicare Supplement and Part D coverage when traveling
If you have a Medicare Supplement and Part D plan to complete your Medicare coverage, you have the same freedom as Original Medicare.
A Medicare Supplement plan travels with you throughout the U.S. You are free to see any provider that accepts Original Medicare. Your Medicare Supplement plan is your secondary coverage and pays once Medicare pays its share.
There is an additional benefit with some of the Medicare Supplement plans. Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N all cover 80% of foreign travel emergencies with a lifetime benefit of $50,000. There is a $250 deductible and the medical emergency must begin during the first 60 days of the foreign visit. If Medicare doesn’t cover the care, then the Medicare Supplement may pay 80%. Travelers insurance is still highly encouraged, so you have coverage for non-emergency care.
Part D plans travel within the nation, so you will have coverage inside the United States when you need prescriptions and go to a network pharmacy. However, any medications bought outside of the United States are not covered by Medicare Part D.
Medicare Advantage plan coverage when traveling
Medicare Advantage plans will cover you differently compared to Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement plan. Most Medicare Advantage plans have a network of doctors and hospitals that you must see if you want coverage from your plan.
Medicare HMO plans typically only cover services if they are performed within the plan’s network. However, there is worldwide emergency care with Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare PPO plans have a larger network of doctors and hospitals because they allow providers to bill out-of-network if they are not considered in-network. Some PPO plans have a travel benefit that will enable you to travel out of state and still have some coverage. The Medicare Advantage PPO plans also have worldwide emergency care.
Your coverage can vary when you travel, depending on what plan you have. Medicare Supplements are all standardized, and no matter which plan you have, you can see providers that accept Medicare. Not every plan will cover you out of the country, however. Medicare Advantage plans have more variation from plan to plan because each one has a specific network you must stick to if you want coverage.