Co-Founder of Elite Insurance Partners & MedicareFAQ, a Medicare learning resource center for all Medicare beneficiaries.
When you’re traveling, you want to know you’ll be protected should the unexpected happen. That’s why if you have Medicare, you may want to consider getting additional coverage to help pay for emergency services depending on the location and duration of your trip.
Whether you’re traveling to another state or abroad, you should consider in advance what your options would be if you’re faced with a medical emergency during your trip. Below, I’ll discuss some important factors you should consider that will help you make the best and most affordable decision for your vacation.
Traveling Within The U.S. With Medicare
Most doctors and hospitals in the U.S. take Original Medicare. If you have Original Medicare, you can use it anywhere within the U.S. and its territories. Medicare Part B usually covers emergencies, such as an injury or sudden illness.
Seeking treatment from hospitals and doctors that accept Medicare can help you avoid high out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage is another option if an emergency happens within the U.S.
Medicare Advantage Within The U.S.
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Medicare Advantage (Part C) covers most urgent care and medical emergencies within the U.S. One of the drawbacks of Medicare Advantage is the small network of providers on each plan. Keep in mind that not all Advantage plans pay for out-of-network services, though, so you could end up paying more if you need out-of-network services.
Traveling Outside The U.S. With Medicare
Medicare won’t reimburse you for any medical bills or emergencies that occur overseas. However, there are a few special circumstances in which Medicare may cover inpatient hospital care, ambulance services or dialysis in a foreign hospital. Please keep in mind that reimbursements will only go toward Medicare-approved services. In addition, Medicare doesn’t pay for any prescription medication you purchase outside the U.S.
Traveling Outside The U.S. With Medigap
Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, are another form of coverage that offer extra protection for people traveling outside the country. They help pay for expenses not covered under Original Medicare. Before purchasing additional coverage, it’s a good idea to compare Medigap plans and prices.
If you have any Medigap plan, with the exception of the most basic plans (A and B), you’ll have foreign travel emergency coverage for the first 60 days of your trip. Signing up for foreign travel emergency coverage under Medigap gives you a lifetime limit of $50,000. Medigap pays for 80% of your medical bills only if you’ve met your deductibles for the year.
You can enroll in a Medigap plan at any time, but you’ll get to avoid health questions during the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. If you choose to purchase Medigap coverage, be sure to do so in advance of your trip.
International Travel Insurance
International travel insurance policies, which aren’t related to Medicare, cover emergency services or evacuations while you’re overseas. Please note that coverage for these plans is often limited and comes with exclusions for people with pre-existing conditions. Travel insurance policies can cover you for things such as trip cancellation, travel health insurance and medical evacuation.
If you are traveling anytime this year, it’s best to weigh your options for travel coverage as soon as possible. In the process, consider where you’re going, your length of stay and any activities you have planned to help you make the best decision for coverage on your trip.
The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.