Are you planning to travel outside of the country this holiday season? If you are planning a flight or cruise outside of the U.S., it is important to understand how medical coverage works abroad.

Does Medicare provide coverage outside of the United States?

No. Medicare does not generally cover travelers outside of the U.S. However, there are a few exceptions. Medicare does cover travelers in Canada who are traveling directly between Alaska and U.S. Additionally U.S. travelers who are in the U.S. but near the border with a medical emergency and the nearest hospital is in Canada or in Mexico may receive coverage.

What if travelers are on a cruise?

Medicare may cover medically necessary services if the ship is within six hours from a U.S. port.

Are Medigap supplemental insurance policies sufficient in case of a health emergency?

Some Medigap plans offer Foreign Emergency Travel coverage. Medigap Emergency Foreign Travel coverage applies to the first 60 days of travel and pays 80% after a $250 deductible with a $50,000 lifetime limit. The Emergency Foreign Travel portion does not cover emergency airlift. This would be at the expense of the traveler.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans cover health emergencies outside of the U.S?

Emergency and urgent care situations are generally covered, with annual limits.

What other insurance options can help ensure any health emergency will be taken care of while abroad?

Travel insurance is often a good option for health coverage outside of the U.S.

Researching the health services policy of the foreign country where you are traveling is important as well. Some countries, regardless of insurance coverage, will require payment upfront. Some countries will require the beneficiary to file claims and others will handle this on behalf of the beneficiary.

The key to peace of mind while traveling abroad is to be prepared. For more information, please contact our health insurance experts at Council on Aging Silicon Valley, (408) 350-3200, option 2.