Article Series

Medicare and Foreign Travel

Article submitted by Lew Barr, Licensed and Independent Insurance Agent serving Colorado, specializing in Medicare Products.

OCT 2016 - Life is good! You’re enjoying your retirement. You have original Medicare along with a Medicare supplement plan and a Part D prescription drug plan. Medically all your bases are covered and you’ve decided that now would be a great time to take that dream vacation. Does Europe tempt you? How about Tahiti? A Caribbean cruise aboard luxury liner?

You plan your trip, make your reservations, arrange for someone to take care of your dog and are all set to go. And if you get sick or have a medical emergency, you expect Medicare to kick in. Unfortunately, you will be disappointed. In most cases, if you’re outside the U.S., original Medicare will not pay up. It covers only travel in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Island, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marina Islands.

On a cruise, you may be covered if the ship’s doctor is allowed to provide medical services under certain laws and the ship is within six hours of a United States port. If you’re farther out to sea than that, Medicare will not cover services.

In rare cases, Medicare will pay for inpatient hospital services you receive in Canada or Mexico, such as if you suffer a medical emergency in the United States and a hospital in Canada or Mexico is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital. Or if you are traveling through Canada, using the most direct route between another state and Alaska and need emergency treatment, you may be covered if the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital able to treat the emergency.

But there is some good news. Even though original Medicare will not cover foreign travel, your Medicare supplement plan may. If you have Medicare Supplement Plan C, D, F, G, M, or N they will provide some coverage. The coverage only applies to the first 60 days of foreign travel. There is a $250.00 deductible and then an 80/20 split, with the plan paying 80% and you paying the other 20%, up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000.

If you are, planning extended travel (more than 60 days) or you are concerned about the $50,000 limit, you may want to consider a separate travel insurance policy.

Note: If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan check to see if there is any foreign travel benefit.

You can download the booklet Medicare Coverage outside the United States by going to my Resources page and clicking on the booklet image. (It is towards the bottom of the page) The official Medicare booklet will open in another window, then you will have the option of reading it or you can download it to your computer –

More about the Author

Lew Barr – Licensed and Independent Insurance Agent
Specializing in Medicare Products for Seniors in Colorado
Tel: 970-773-0220

I specialize in Medicare products. I have contracted with the most competitive and well-known companies in the area, and I’ll work with you year after year to inform and educate you about your options and choices and to help you get the best deal. There is never a fee for my services. The premium is the same, whether you purchase a plan from me or directly from the insurance company.

Posted October 2016 on