An Easy Mini-Guide To Medicare Coverage Outside the US

No time to read now? Click here to download as a PDF.

Do you want to know about Medicare coverage outside the US?

Medicare, the federal health insurance program in the United States, provides essential coverage to millions of Americans.

But what happens when you travel throughout the US or outside the country?

This mini guide aims to shed light on Medicare coverage while traveling domestically and outside the US. It addresses important questions and concerns. Whether you’re planning a vacation or considering international living, understanding how Medicare works while traveling is crucial.

So do read this useful guide, below.

Medicare coverage outside the US
Medicare coverage outside the US is limited so do work on it prior to your flight

CONTENTS — In this article, you will learn about Medicare coverage while traveling, including:

A Mini Guide to Medicare Coverage When Travelling

Whether you’re exploring a new city, visiting family, or embarking on an exciting voyage, the allure of travel is undeniable.

However, as a Medicare beneficiary, you may find yourself wondering about the extent of your healthcare coverage while you’re away from home.

For example, you may wonder if Part B covers emergency and non-emergency services while you’re out of state or in a foreign country.

Understanding Medicare coverage outside the US is critical to ensure you have access to the medical care you need in the event an incident occurs.

Let’s discuss the intricacies of Medicare coverage when traveling. You’ll gain insights and tips to help you navigate the terrain of healthcare beyond your hometown.

Medicare Coverage While Traveling Domestically

Original Medicare
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) typically provides coverage across the United States.

Medicare is known for its comprehensive coverage.

But its scope can vary when you venture outside your home state.

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) typically provides coverage across the United States as long as you receive care from healthcare providers who accept Medicare.

This is a comforting thought when you’re exploring different corners of the country.

Medigap

If you have a Medigap plan, you can travel across the U.S. and see any provider as long as they accept Medicare.

So, your coverage stays the same when in another city or state.

Medicare Advantage

With an Advantage plan, you likely have an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or PPO (Preferred Provider Organization).

HMO plans usually do not have any out-of-network coverage except in the case of emergencies.

If your plan is a PPO, you can have out-of-network coverage, but the out-of-pocket costs tend to be higher. 

Part D

The good thing about your Part D plan is you can get your prescription filled anywhere in the nation as long as you do so at a preferred or standard pharmacy.

If you have to use a pharmacy out-of-network, you will likely pay 100% of the cost of your prescriptions. And, it’s important to note that the amount you spend does not apply toward your plan deductible.

Medicare and Cruise Coverage

unexpected healthcare costs.
Medicare coverage on cruise ships varies, depending on the circumstance.

Cruising is a popular way to travel and explore multiple destinations in one trip.

If you’re planning a cruise, understanding your Medicare coverage on cruise ships is crucial to avoiding unexpected healthcare costs.

With Original Medicare, your coverage on cruise ships can be complex.

In general, Medicare does not provide care when you are outside the U.S. However, there can be limited exceptions to this rule.

For instance, if you are on a cruise ship in U.S. territorial waters, or receive emergency care while en route to the U.S., Medicare may provide coverage for you.

Medicare Coverage While Traveling Abroad

Limited Medicare coverage
Medicare coverage outside the United States can be limited.

Medicare coverage outside the United States is limited.

In most cases, Original Medicare does not cover medical services you receive internationally, with a few exceptions, such as emergencies in certain situations. This is where careful planning and exploring additional coverage options become critical.

If you travel beyond U.S. borders, your Original Medicare coverage may not apply. This can expose you to substantial medical expenses.

Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure you’re adequately covered while away.

Medigap

If you have a Medigap plan F, G, C, D, M, or N, it will pay up to 80% of your medical emergency costs after you meet a $250 deductible.

You’re lifetime benefit limit is $50,000, and the plan will only pay for emergency care within the first 60 days you are outside the country.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans often include coverage for emergency care while you’re traveling abroad.

However, you’ll want to review your specific Advantage plan’s Summary of Benefits to understand the details and extent of coverage. This will also tell you of any associated costs you could acquire.

Part D

Although you can have coverage when traveling domestically, Medicare Part D does not provide coverage when you are outside the country.

So, it’s a good idea to try to ensure you have enough of your prescriptions before traveling abroad.

If you need a prescription while you’re away, you will likely pay out-of-pocket for any medicine you pick up from the foreign pharmacy.

Additional Travel Insurance

Mini guide to medicare coverage outside the us
Having an additional travel insurance can be a smart option.

Travel insurance is another option to protect your health and finances abroad.

It can cover a variety of situations, including medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more.

Before you purchase travel insurance, be sure to review the policy’s terms and conditions, including any exclusions.

How to Plan Ahead

As you get ready to head out on a trip, whether domestic or international, here are a couple of steps you can take to ensure your healthcare needs are met while you’re away.

  • Contact Your Plan Provider: Before you leave, reach out to your plan provider to understand the extent of your coverage while traveling. Ask them to provide clarity on what services are covered, any limitations, and how to access medical care if needed.
  • Carry Important Information: Keep a copy of your Medicare card, supplementary coverage cards, and current medications. In case of emergencies, having these details readily available can streamline the process of receiving care.

Related: 6 Essential Travel Tips For Kidney Patients

Staying Informed and Prepared

Although Medicare coverage when traveling has its nuances, being informed can help you navigate it with ease.

You can look forward to wandering through foreign cities, setting sail on the high seas, or exploring the vast landscapes of the United States. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of your Medicare coverage.

This can ensure your health and well-being are taken care of wherever your travels lead.

Remember, each Medicare plan could have different coverage rules. So, review your specific plan documents and communicate with your plan provider for any personalized guidance or concerns.

While the adventure of your travel journey awaits, your health should remain a priority. You can be well-prepared about your coverage and rest easy knowing your care is in good hands.

Final Thoughts on Medicare Coverage Outside the US

As you embark on journeys within and beyond US borders, understanding your Medicare coverage is paramount.

While the coverage may be limited, proper planning and consideration of supplementary options can provide you with peace of mind during your international adventures.

So, make sure you do your research, notify the necessary parties, and consider additional plans to ensure that your healthcare needs are met wherever you go.


Jackie Gately at the beach


About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

Follow my social channels for more inspiration.


Next Steps

For more travel tips, read the articles, next;