Many questions arise when dealing with Medicare and the coverage it provides. One question that comes up frequently: Will Medicare pay for health care outside of the United States? Sadly the answer is no, except on the most rare of situations. However the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, District of Columbia, and Northern Mariana Islands are considered to be part of the United States.
One situation is if a person lives in the United States, but a foreign hospital is closer or easier to get to than the nearest American hospital, or that may provide the care that is needed. Another would be on a cruise ship and receiving medical treatment by a doctor. The cruise ship must be in an American port, or six hours away from the nearest port or less. More than six hours away from port, Medicare will not provide coverage. Last most known, but least likely to happen, situation is when crossing through Canada, between Alaska and another state, with no delays at all. Medicare will only pay for the health care outside of the United States, if the Canadian hospital is the closest available treatment center during the emergency. Also, be aware that Medicare will not pay for prescription drugs bought outside of American borders as well.
There are, however, various types of coverage that may pay for health care costs outside of the United States. One is Medigap. This is a separate, privately sold insurance plan. Medigap is used to fill in the gaps of the original Medicare plan. Purchasing traveler’s insurance is another way of having possible health insurance when leaving the United States.