Will Medicare cover me while I travel

Most people’s retirement year and first year on Medicare are the same. Generally, retirement is a time to travel to all the places you haven’t had the chance to go yet due to your monotonous work schedule. Therefore, new Medicare enrollees should learn how their new health insurance will cover them while traveling.

Medicare provides some coverage for travel depending on where and when you travel. Continue reading to find out when Medicare does cover you and when it doesn’t.

Medicare Plans

Since Medicare doesn’t cover all of your healthcare expenses, most beneficiaries add private supplemental coverage that fills in these gaps. There are two main types of Medicare plans that you can enroll in.

These plans help cut down out-of-pocket spending, add extra benefits, and more. The two types of plans are Medigap plans and Medicare Advantage plans.

Original Medicare + a Medigap Plan

A Medigap plan is something that supplements your Original Medicare coverage. This means that Original Medicare is primary and pays first, while the Medigap plan is secondary and pays second.

Original Medicare will cover you anywhere inside the country as long as you see doctors who accept Medicare. Consequently, the Medigap plan will cover you anywhere in the country as long as you see doctors who accept Medicare.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage plans are similar to the type of coverage you probably had while working. They are copays, deductibles, and usually, networks. A network is a group of doctor that participate in the plan.

Because Medicare Advantage plans usually have networks, you need to get your treatment from the plan’s local network providers unless it is a true emergency. However, some Advantage plans have out-of-network coverage so you can use your plan while traveling throughout the country.

International Travel Coverage

All three forms of Medicare coverage – Original Medicare, Medigap plans, and Medicare Advantage plans – offer some kind of coverage outside of the United States. However, 99 percent of the time, you will only be covered in the case of an emergency.

Original Medicare

If you only have Original Medicare, you will only be covered outside of the hospital in a few specific circumstances. Generally, if you are in the United States or traveling to the United States through Canada and a foreign hospital is closer to you than an American one when an emergency occurs, then Original Medicare will cover your care.

There is one case where Original Medicare will cover you outside of the United States even in an emergency doesn’t occur, and that is if you live in the United States, but a foreign hospital is the closest hospital to your home.

Medigap Plans

Several Medigap plans have an extra benefit that helps cover you for foreign travel emergencies. They Medigap plan will cover 80% of the cost after you have reached a $250 deductible. This benefit has a lifetime limit of $50,000.

Medicare Advantage Plans

All Medicare Advantage plans include a worldwide emergency benefit. However, the carrier gets to decide the cost-sharing amounts you will need to pay and what extra benefits they want to include.

The amount you’ll pay for your medical care outside of the country depends on what your plan has set for the copay and deductible.

Traveler’s Insurance

As you can see, having Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan is the best for frequent travelers, especially if you only travel within the United States. However, if you don’t have a Medicare plan, or if you want to have health coverage while traveling internationally that isn’t just for emergencies, you can talk to a travel agent or insurance agent about purchasing short term travel insurance.

Danielle Roberts is a Medicare insurance expert and co-founder at Boomer Benefits. You can read more about Medicare’s costs and coverage at her website: https://boomerbenefits.com