Am I Covered by Medicare If I Travel Outside of the United States?
If you are a beneficiary of Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, then you are free to travel anywhere in the U.S. without fear of losing your Medicare coverage. If you travel outside of the country, however, your Part A and Part B coverage options are much more limited.
For example, Medicare will provide emergency coverage in Canada if you are traveling a direct route, and without unreasonable delay, between Alaska and another U.S. state, and the closest hospital that can treat you is in Canada. Medicare will also cover you while on a cruise ship if you need to receive care while the ship is in U.S. waters or port (or within six hours of arrival or departure from a U.S. port).
While in a foreign country, such as Canada or Mexico, Medicare could potentially cover non-emergency inpatient services if foreign treatment is closer to your residence than the nearest U.S.-based hospital. Medicare may cover medically necessary ambulance services to reach the foreign hospital, but only if you are admitted for a medically necessary covered inpatient hospital service.
In these situations, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount and also the Part B deductible.
Traveling with Medicare Advantage
If you receive your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, instead of Original Medicare, you may be required you stay within the plan service network to receive routine care when traveling inside the U.S. or you could be subject to pay higher costs . If this is the case, you would still be covered for emergency and urgent care as needed. Some MA plans are more flexible than others and may let you see health care providers outside of your network to obtain routine care. Remember, depending on the particulars of your Medicare Advantage plan, however, you could have to pay a higher amount to receive non-emergency care.
Medigap coverage outside the U.S.
As another option for foreign travel coverage, you may want to purchase a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, also known as Medigap or MedSup, to receive coverage while traveling outside of the U.S. Specifically, Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N provide some degree of foreign travel coverage up to plan limits. Some Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for travel abroad also. Please note that Medigap plans are designed to supplement Original Medicare benefits and cannot be used in combination with a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you are interested in joining either a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan, then our eHealthMedicare plan comparison tool on this page can help you review available options in your area.