Medicare May Not Cover You Outside of the U.S.
While some Medicare Advantage plans cover international travel, it’s important to note that original Medicare does not. So if you are a senior citizen planning a trip abroad, it would be wise to consider international travel health insurance for U.S. citizens. Medicare does not cover any medical care services when you are outside the U.S. International travel health insurance coverage is provided only when you are within the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Northern Mariana Islands, and anywhere inside the U.S. borders.
Exceptions with Medicare
A few exceptions exist in cases of travel to Canada and Mexico. Medicare can sometimes pay for inpatient hospital services in these countries if the following conditions are met:
- You live in or are inside the U.S. and need medical care, but the closest hospital is in Canada or Mexico. When the foreign hospital is closer/easier to get to than one in your home country, Medicare may pay for those services.
- You are crossing through Canada without delay between Alaska and another state and you need medical care. If a Canadian hospital is closer/easier to get to than the nearest U.S. hospital, Medicare may pay for those services.
Remember that these exceptions are not guaranteed, so Medicare may or may not come through for you in an emergency medical situation in Canada or Mexico.
Medicare Advantage plans
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it should provide worldwide coverage benefits for senior health care insurance needs, but always verify this with your provider before you leave the country. Certain Medicap policies (C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J) provide foreign travel emergency health care coverage for travel outside the U.S. These policies typically pay 80 percent of the cost of emergency care during the first 60 days of each trip (after a $250 deductible), and be aware that a lifetime limit of $50,000 applies.
If these plans don’t apply to you, then you will have to consider other options for medical coverage while traveling abroad. Although Medicare covers you in the U.S. and its territories, once you cross the border, you will be on your own. Travel medical coverage for seniors can provide peace of mind at a low cost, so ensure that wherever your next trip may take you, you are covered.