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Does Medicare Pay for Medical Services Received Aboard a Cruise Ship?

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Summary: Original Medicare may pay for medical services in domestic waters aboard a cruise ship, but not international waters. To get coverage for foreign travel emergencies, you may want a Medicare Supplement plan.

If you love vacationing aboard a cruise ship, you’re part of a growing demographic, according to The Maritime Executive. Over 14.2 million passengers from North America took a cruise in 2018, which represents an increase of nine percent. You may enjoy onboard entertainers, views of whales, formal nights, and room service. The last thing you probably hope to need on your trip are medical services. However, if you fall ill one evening, or suffer a more serious health event, you want to be sure that medical services are covered.

Does Medicare pay for medical services on a cruise ship?

The main thing you need to consider is if your cruise is in the US, say along the coast of Alaska or Miami, or if your cruise is in international waters, say Mexico or South America.

Medicare may pay for medically necessary services and supplies administered aboard a cruise ship if the ship was within United States waters when you got this care and the doctor was authorized to provide this care to you. The medical services and supplies must be provided in a United States port or within six hours of departure or arrival to or from a U.S. port.

If you received care within U.S. waters, the doctor should submit a claim to Medicare. If you received care while in international waters, Medicare doesn’t generally cover it.

Some Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policies may cover emergency medical care outside the U.S. Medigap plans are available from private insurance companies to cover some of your Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) out-of-pocket costs.

You may also want to ask your travel agent about travel insurance with limited medical coverage.

To begin looking for Medicare Supplement plans that have coverage for foreign emergencies, enter your zip code on this page.

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