Seniors Beware:  Medicare doesn’t cover you outside the U.S.

Original Medicare is a fee-for-service health insurance plan managed by the U.S. Federal government. On top of Original Medicare, there are Medicare advantage plans, which are health plans offered by private companies approved by Medicare, and Medigap policies, which are private health insurance policies sold to fill the gaps in Medicare.

Some Medicare Advantage plans provide worldwide coverage benefits for senior health care insurance needs, but it has to be verified with the plan prior to traveling outside the U.S. to be sure.

Some Medicap policies provide Foreign Travel Emergency health care coverage for travel outside the U.S. Medicare does not cover health care services when the member is outside the U.S. Specifically, it does not provide international travel health insurance coverage except when is traveling within:

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • The U.S. Northern Mariana Islands
  • Inside the U.S. borders

There are a few exceptions in cases of travel to Canada and Mexico. In some cases, Medicare can pay for inpatient hospital services in these countries if:

  1. Member lives in or are inside the U.S. and need medical care, but the closest hospital is in Canada or Mexico. When the foreign hospital is closer and easier to get to than one in the home country, Medicare may pay for those services. (Please note the "may")
  2. Member is crossing through Canada without delay between Alaska and another state and member needs medical care. If a Canadian hospital is closer or easier to get to than the nearest U.S. hospital, Medicare may pay for those services. (Again, please note the "may")

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