Medicare is a U.S government health insurance program that covers the health insurance of citizens that are 65 years old and older. For context sake, the U.S refers to the 50 States that make up the United States; the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
When does Medicare offer coverage abroad?
If you are a beneficiary of Medicare and you have to travel outside the U.S, it is important to note that Medicare generally will not cover your health care abroad. However, there are some exceptional cases when Medicare travels with you. Whether you want to spend your retirement abroad or you are just planning a short vacation overseas, here are situations where Medicare may step in and offer coverage for your health care in a foreign country:
- If you live in the U.S but the closest hospital that can treat your medical condition is in another country, Medicare may cover this health care bill, even though it may not be an emergency.
- If you have a medical emergency in the U.S but the nearest hospital to you that can treat your condition is in a foreign country, Medicare might just cover your health care in that hospital abroad.
- Imagine a situation: you have a medical emergency while traveling between Alaska and another state at a reasonably fast speed on a direct route and with no delay. If the Canadian hospital is closer to you than the closest U.S hospital, Medicare may cover your health care services in that hospital.
- If you are on a ship that is no more than 6 hours from a U.S. port when an emergency arises. Medicare might cover your medical bills if there is an authorized doctor by law to treat you on the ship.
Apart from all of the above-listed scenarios, Medicare does not offer coverage abroad. For further insights, you can reach out to Hella Health or any other Medicare advisor to speak with professionals that can help you choose the right Medicare plan.
Which parts of Medicare offer coverage abroad for the above-listed situations?
The Original Medicare, Parts A and B, does not offer coverage for health care in foreign hospitals. However, in exceptional cases, such as those listed above, some parts of the Original Medicare can cover your health care services. The Original Medicare offers such coverage as this:
- Part A covers your health care for when you are admitted on a doctor’s order in a foreign country. This is known as inpatient hospital care (Hospital Insurance).
- Part B Medicare covers Medical Insurance. If you require an emergency ambulance and doctor service just before you are admitted and during your inpatient hospital stay in a country outside the U.S., Medicare Part B will cover it. However, ambulance services such as return ambulance trips home and doctor’s service after your covered inpatient hospital stay in a foreign country will not be covered by Medicare.
Please note that Medicare only pays for its share of services that are covered by Medicare. For example, if you only have Part B, only your medical insurance will be covered; inpatient hospital care (Part A) will not be covered.
Which part of Medicare does not offer coverage abroad?
Medicare Part D (Prescription drug coverage) that pays for your drugs does not cover drug prescriptions and purchases outside the U.S.
Can I get a Medicare supplement insurance policy for abroad coverage?
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance Policy is alternative insurance that can be purchased from private insurance companies. Some parts of Medigap offer abroad coverage, that is, it can pay some of your Original Medicare health care bills outside the U.S. If you are planning to retire outside the U.S. or are just planning to go on a trip, getting a Medigap plan that offers coverage in a foreign country is a good investment.
Medicare plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M, and N provide foreign health care coverage and can pay up to 80% of your health care bills outside the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible in that year.
- E, H, I, and J are no longer available for sale. But you can keep them if you purchased any of them before June 1, 2010.
- Cover foreign health care emergency services within the first 60 days of travel
- Cover outside the U.S. emergency health bills that are not otherwise covered by the Original Medicare
- Offers a lifetime limit of up to $50,000
Can I buy a travel health insurance policy?
Yes, you can. Since Medicare offers limited abroad coverage, you may choose to purchase a regular travel health insurance policy to cover your foreign health care services. This type of insurance can help cover medical expenses if you get sick or injured while traveling. It can also provide coverage for evacuation and repatriation back to your home country.
When considering a travel health insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print and understand what is and is not covered. It may be so that the services you need most are covered with conditions or not covered at all.
Medicare offers you one less concern to worry about as you approach retirement. As a rule, Original Medicare takes care of your health insurance in the U.S only. That is why if you are a frequent traveler or if you are just planning a short trip abroad, you may need to consider Medigap Insurance Policy to get additional healthcare coverage since Medicare offers limited services outside the U.S.
Trying to figure out the right Medicare and/or Medigap plan to choose may be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many modern online tools and Medicare advisors nowadays that offer a stress-free step-by-step procedure to help you choose the right Medicare Insurance Plan. Just don’t forget to mention that you need a plan for travelers and your stay in a foreign country will be stress-free.