Will Medicare Cover Me When I Travel?
When you travel, the last thing you’ll want to think of is your health insurance. However, it could arguably be one of the most important things to think of when you travel. You never know what might happen when you travel, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It is important to avoid unexpected medical bills, so you will want to know exactly how your plan will cover you when you travel. So, how will Medicare cover you when you travel? Well, that depends on where you’re going!
Traveling in the U.S.
Most people retire around 65, which is also when Medicare eligibility begins. Retirement allows you to have more time to travel and see family or friends. Original Medicare Parts A and B can be used anywhere within the U.S. You can see any doctor or facility that accepts Original Medicare when it is your primary insurance. Therefore, traveling in the U.S. with Medicare should be relatively smooth.
Medigap Insurance and U.S. Travel
Medigap plans are secondary plans to Original Medicare. They must pay for services that Medicare covers. When you travel with a Medigap plan, you’ll always ask a provider if they accept Original Medicare. You do not have to ask them if they accept your Supplement plan. As long as they accept Original Medicare, they must accept your Supplement. So, if you do pair a Medigap plan with your Original Medicare, your coverage will be the same across the U.S.
Medicare Advantage Plans and U.S. Travel
Medicare Advantage plans are structured differently. Instead of receiving your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through the federal government, you will receive them from your Advantage plan. Medicare pays your Advantage plan to handle and manage your care. Each plan has a network of providers that you must see to have coverage from your plan. This means your coverage can be different when you travel.
You might pay a higher cost-sharing for services or the entire bill if you are outside your plan’s service area. However, some plans have national networks, so they could be considered in-network if a doctor accepts your plan. Always check your plan’s Summary of Benefits to learn more about your network.
Part D Drug Plans and U.S. Travel
While you are traveling, you may need to fill a prescription. You can request that the script is sent to any pharmacy. However, your cost-sharing will depend on if that pharmacy is a preferred, standard, or out-of-network pharmacy. If you go to any preferred pharmacy, your costs should be the same no matter what state you live in. However, if you go to an out-of-network pharmacy, you will pay entirely out-of-pocket, and your costs won’t apply to your plan.
Traveling Outside the U.S.
Original Medicare’s coverage while outside the U.S. is limited. Medicare may only cover you if you are close to a U.S. port while on a cruise or flying en route to Alaska or the lower 48 while over Canada. Although Medicare limits its coverage outside the U.S., your other plans might not.
Outside the U.S. with Medigap Coverage
Six Medigap plans offer foreign travel emergency coverage. Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N cover 80% of the cost of emergencies while in another country. However, you must pay the $250 deductible. Additionally, there is a lifetime limit of $50,000, so they won’t pay anymore once they spend that much on emergencies.
Outside the U.S. with Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans offer worldwide emergency coverage. Your cost-sharing can vary with each plan, and you may need to keep all receipts and submit them upon your return to the U.S. Your plan can also decide not to cover a service if they believe it was not an emergency.
Part D drug coverage Overseas
Medicare Part D plans do not provide coverage when you are overseas. Therefore, you will want to stock up on prescriptions before you leave the U.S. If you need any drugs while in another country, you will pay the entire cost.
Your coverage will vary depending on where you are traveling and your plan. However, you may still consider purchasing traveler’s insurance while overseas to help cover any visits you need that are not considered an emergency.