Are Medicare Services Available When Traveling?

Traveling with Medicare – are you covered? Whether or not you may receive Medicare services while traveling depends on where you are traveling and what benefits you receive.

One important question that Medicare recipients have is regarding their particular plan benefits when it comes to traveling both within the United States and in a foreign country. The rules are definitely different depending on where you travel.

Traveling in the United States

Recipients who have Original Medicare can go to any hospital and see any doctor for medical treatment if they become sick or injured anywhere within the U.S., the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. These territories include the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

For those with the Medicare private health plan known as Medicare Advantage, Medicare services may not be covered in the U.S. unless it is a medical emergency or urgent care is required. Some plans don’t allow Medicare recipients to go to healthcare providers that aren’t in the network designated by the plan. This makes Medicare services more expensive. Anyone with this type of plan should check on what the rules are before they travel in the U.S.

Traveling in Foreign Countries

Unfortunately, Medicare services are not available when traveling outside the U.S. and its territories. But there are a few limited exceptions when both Original Medicare and Medicare private plans have to cover medical care received in foreign countries.

• If traveling a direct route without delay between Alaska and another state, emergency care may be covered in Canada.

• While on a cruise ship, Medicare will pay for health care if it is a U.S. registered ship, if the doctor is listed with the Coast Guard, or if the care is received in U.S. territorial waters.

• Medicare may cover in-patient and non-emergency care in a foreign country if the hospital is closer to the patient’s home than the closest hospital in the U.S. This would apply to those who live near the border of either Canada or Mexico.

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