Traveling Abroad With Medicare

Dear Stephanie,
I travel often, both within the U.S. and abroad. If I have a medical emergency when I’m traveling, will my care be covered by Medicare? I’m worried and don’t want to incur a lot of medical expenses if the need arises. Thanks Tonya, from Tomball TX

Hello Tonya,
Many seniors traveling these days are under the impression that Medicare covers foreign medical expenses 100% which is not always the case. 

However, Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans must cover care you receive outside the U.S. in certain circumstances. For example:

  • Medicare will pay for emergency services in Canada if you are traveling a direct route, without unreasonable delay, between Alaska and another state, and the closest hospital that can treat you is in Canada.
  • Medicare will pay for medical care you get on a cruise ship if you get the care while the ship is in U.S. territorial waters. This means that the ship is in a U.S. port or within six hours of arrival or departure from a U.S. port.
  • In limited situations, Medicare may pay for non-emergency inpatient services in a foreign hospital (and any connected provider and ambulance costs). Your care is covered if the hospital is closer to your residence than the nearest available U.S. hospital. This may happen if, for example, you live near the border of Canada or Mexico.

Some Medigap policies provide coverage for travel abroad. MediGap plans C through G, M, and N cover 80% of the cost of emergency care abroad. Check with your policy for specific coverage rules for clarification on coverage.  Hope this helps answer your question.  

If you’re confused about medicare, please sign-up for weekly newsletters and updates: or RSVP (832) 953-4229 for Medicare & Social Security Workshop, Sept 4, 2019 @ 6:30pm, 1818 Eldridge Dr. in Sugar Land, TX.



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