How Medicare covers you when traveling

Happy couple prepares for safe travel covered by Medicare

In retirement, you’re probably getting ready for many adventures, including travel, which presents a chance to make memories and experience new things. Before you plan your next trip, however, it’s a good idea to know how Medicare covers you when traveling domestically or internationally. Let’s answer some common questions about traveling with Medicare.

Can I travel within the U.S. and still get Medicare coverage? 

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is a federally backed program, meaning that hospital care and doctor visits are covered for Original Medicare members in all 50 U.S. states, including Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands. There are no network restrictions if the provider you’re seeing accepts Medicare. 

If you are a Medicare Advantage plan member, urgent care or emergency care services are covered for domestic travel. However, you may not be covered for routine health care beyond your plan’s service area.

Does Medicare cover international travel?

If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., you likely won’t have coverage. However, in emergencies and rare instances, there may be some coverage for Medicare-covered services like inpatient hospital, doctor and ambulance services if you are in a foreign country.

If you do get medical care overseas during your vacation, be aware that most foreign and overseas hospitals are not required to file for Medicare claims. This means you’ll need to make sure you get an itemized bill from your doctor to submit to your Medicare insurance.

How does travel impact filling my prescriptions?

Whether you have a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription plan or have Part D drug coverage through your Medicare Advantage plan, expect to pay out of pocket when filling a prescription in another country. Remember to plan ahead when traveling out of the country and bring enough medication to last until you get home.

If you’re a Medicare Advantage plan member with prescription coverage and are out of the country for more than six months, reach out to your Medicare Advantage plan to learn what coverage you have for international travel. 

What coverage do I get if I have a Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance plan? 

A Medigap coverage plan supplements your Original Medicare coverage. This supplemental insurance can pay for emergency care that takes place while you’re traveling abroad. Keep in mind that Medigap plans C through G, M and N usually cover 80% of non-domestic (foreign) emergency care expenses. Plans E, H, I, and J aren’t for sale anymore, but if you bought one before June 1, 2010, you can keep it. These plans also provide foreign travel emergency health coverage. Call your Medigap provider to understand all restrictions and learn what they cover.

What coverage do I get through Original Medicare on a cruise ship?

Cruise ship vacations are popular choices for traveling in retirement. If you are cruising overseas, the rules for foreign countries apply, but Original Medicare will not pay for most health care services if you are on a ship that is more than six hours away from a U.S. port. Medicare may cover you if you have a “medically necessary” service on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S. and are no more than six hours from port. Medicare Advantage plans will cover, at a minimum, the same as Original Medicare in these situations.

Can I purchase additional “travel coverage” on a Medicare Advantage plan for traveling abroad?

If you’re about to go on vacation overseas, you may want to prepare by purchasing additional coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans have options to purchase additional coverage if you are traveling outside of the U.S. It’s always best to check your plan in advance. Another option would be to purchase travel insurance from a travel agency. This could be a good option, as it may cover accidents, emergencies or illness that occur on your trip. 

How does ApexHealth cover me while traveling?

Medicare Advantage plans cover everything that Original Medicare does, plus extra benefits! Like Original Medicare, an ApexHealth Medicare Advantage plan covers emergency or urgent care visits within the U.S., but any out-of-network care, such as doctor visits, etc., are not covered. The same goes for travel abroad: You are not covered unless you are in an emergency situation. 

If you have upcoming travel and want to know your Medicare coverage options under your ApexHealth plan, give our ApexAssistants a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711).

Now that you know your options – it’s time to travel!

Traveling to a new place is exciting, and we hope this information brings you peace of mind and allows you to fully enjoy some rest and relaxation on your next trip.

If you have any questions, please give our ApexAssistants a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31. 

Looking for more information on coverage plans with ApexHealth in your area? Put in your zip code and find out more!


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