Medicare has multiple parts, and each part has its own rules for covering you while traveling. Though Original Medicare covers little outside the U.S., there are Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans that can offer foreign travel emergency coverage.
Also, your coverage under Medicare while traveling is dependent upon where you are traveling. For example, if you are traveling within the United States, you will have different coverage than if you were to travel internationally.
Travel Coverage with Original Medicare
Traveling within the United States with Original Medicare is simple. If the doctor accepts Medicare, you are covered no matter where you are in the United States. However, it isn’t this simple for international travel.
Generally, Original Medicare doesn’t cover you during international travels. However, there are some circumstances that Original Medicare may cover some medical expenses in a foreign hospital.
One circumstance where Original Medicare would cover you is if an emergency happens while you are inside the United States, but a foreign hospital is the closest option for you to receive medical treatment. Another circumstance when you can be covered in a foreign hospital is if you are traveling from/to one state to/from Alaska through Canada and an emergency occurs. Then, you can be covered by Original Medicare.
There is one circumstance in which Original Medicare will cover you in a foreign hospital even if it’s not an emergency. If your home is closer to a foreign hospital than an American one, then Medicare will cover you without it being an emergent case.
Travel Coverage with Medicare Supplement Plans
Traveling domestically with a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap plan, is as simple as traveling with Original Medicare. This is because Medigap plans don’t have networks, which means if the doctor accepts Medicare, they must accept your Medigap plan.
While all Medigap plans cover you within the United States, not all of them cover you internationally. There are ten Medigap plans available today in 2019. Out of the ten plans, there are six that offer foreign travel coverage.
The foreign travel coverage that the Medigap plans offer is only for emergencies. If you have an emergency occurs while you are within your first sixty days of traveling, then you can be covered. You must first meet the $250 deductible before your Medigap plan with cover anything. Once you have met your deductible, your Medigap plan will cover 80% of the costs.
Keep in mind that you have a limit to this coverage. The Medigap plans will only pay $50,000 for foreign travel emergencies for a person.
Travel Coverage with Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans are different, and so how they cover medical services while travelling are different as well.
Unlike Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans have networks of providers in which you must use when seeking medical attention. This means that you will likely be out of network if you travel out of state. However, some Medicare Advantage plans will still cover you when you’re out of network, you will just have higher cost-sharing amounts.
On the other hand, Medicare Advantage plans have a worldwide emergency benefit. Since each carrier decides the copays and coinsurance for each plan, your cost-sharing amount depends on your plan.
Just a reminder, all this coverage is for emergency cases (except for the one circumstance with Original Medicare). To Medicare, an emergency is considered the potential for loss of life or limb.