Why you need Medicare travel insurance, and how to find it.
Yes, there is such a thing as Medicare travel insurance. Traditional Medicare will not provide coverage outside the United States, except in limited situations. However, nontraditional coverage, such as through Medicare Advantage or Medigap policies, may provide coverage outside the U.S. Travel insurance with health care coverage is a great alternative for Medicare beneficiaries seeking additional coverage when traveling outside the country.
Medicare will pay for health care services outside the U.S. only in limited circumstances. For purposes of Medicare coverage, the U.S. includes the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Medicare will cover health care services in a foreign hospital if
— there is an emergency and the foreign hospital is the closest hospital.
— the Medicare recipient is traveling through Canada to the U.S. and there is an emergency.
— the foreign hospital is closer to home than the nearest U.S. hospital.
Even if a health care service is covered by Medicare when out of the country, the Medicare recipient will likely have to pay for the service out of pocket and claim reimbursement from the Medicare program.
Medicare Advantage and Medigap policies from private insurers often include additional coverage that may cover foreign travel emergency care. The policies may have lifetime limits. In the case of Medigap, it is about $50,000. Before traveling, Medicare recipients should check with their health plans to determine coverage. If coverage is inadequate, then there are travel insurance policies that cover health care services. These policies can be used to cover the gaps. Not all travel insurance covers health care services, so Medicare recipients should consult with an insurance or travel agent to learn more.