Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

No, Medicare does not usually provide health coverage to beneficiaries traveling outside the United States, but there are some exceptions:

  • A medical emergency happens while you are in the U.S., and a foreign hospital is closer than the closest U.S. hospital that treats your medical condition.
  • While traveling through Canada from Alaska by the most direct route to another U.S. State, with no undue delays, a medical emergency happens, and a Canadian hospital is closer than the closest U.S. hospital that can handle the medical emergency.
  • You reside in the U.S., and a foreign hospital is nearer your residence than the closest U.S hospital in an emergency or non-emergency situation.
  • Emergency medical care is needed when you are on board a boat docked at a United States port or are less than six hours away from a United States port.

Even in the rare cases that Original Medicare covers (as noted above), you will still have to pay the 20% of coinsurance, copayments, and the Part B deductible.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Foreign Travel?

Medicare Advantage (Part C) is required by law to cover all the services and supplies covered by Original Medicare.  If you plan to travel internationally abroad, it is important to inform your insurance carrier of your planned trip. They will explain how your Medicare Advantage plan covers emergency travel benefits if any, and how claims or reimbursement work with your policy.

If you travel outside your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area for more than six months, the insurance company may automatically dis-enroll you from the Medicare Advantage policy. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with your company before leaving the country to determine your plan’s limitations.

Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Foreign Travel?

Medicare beneficiaries who travel abroad frequently may benefit from purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap), because Medicare Supplement plans C, D, F, G, M, and N cover 80% of charges billed for emergency care outside the United States if these conditions apply:

  • You have paid the $250 annual deductible
  • The emergency care begins inside the first 60 days of your trip
  • Medicare does not already offer coverage for the emergency care

Be aware that prescription drugs purchased abroad are not covered by Part D Medicare (prescription drug coverage). Many people with Medigap policies buy a Part D plan to cover their prescriptions.

Travel Medical Insurance

Considering the limited nature of Medicare’s international coverage, Medicare recipients may decide to purchase a Travel Medical Insurance policy. This policy can be used along with your choice of Medicare or Medigap plans. A Medigap plan may only cost around $9 to add a travel medical plan.

Get Medigap Coverage

Of the plans still available to enroll in as of January 1, 2020, Plans F, G, M, and N cover 80% of the cost of emergency travel benefits up to a lifetime total of $50,000.

(Medigap insurance plans are named by letters and are standardized, meaning that a plan by the same letter name, say Plan N, has the same benefits regardless of the insurance company or state of residence.)

How to Submit Foreign Claims with Medicare

Hospitals in a foreign country are not required to fill out and file Medicare claims accrued with your travel medical expenses. Suppose you have been admitted to a hospital in another country by a doctor’s orders, and the hospital chooses not to file the claim. In that case, you will need to submit an accurate, itemized bill to Medicare on behalf of your doctor, inpatient staff, and ambulance services (if applicable).

To submit an accurate claim, you need to find out the following:

  • The exact amount of doctor’s charges
  • If your doctor accepts Medicare assignment
  • What type of facility admitted you
  • Where your test, service, or other item was performed

Ready To Learn More?

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Mark Prip

Since 2003, Mark Prip has been leading  Policy Guide, Inc., providing knowledgeable information about Medicare, life insurance, and dental coverage to clients in over forty states. With his unparalleled hands-on experience aiding countless Medicare beneficiaries in selecting an appropriate health plan - it's clear that he is a prime example amongst other competitors for expertise and assistance. Mark has held is Florida Health & Life Insurance License (E051889) since 2003. View his license profile on the Florida Department of insurance website.