What to know about traveling with Medicare (fo... - CLL Support

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What to know about traveling with Medicare (for USA Patients)


Planning to travel abroad this summer? Before you go, remember to look into Medicare coverage outside the United States.

If you have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance), your health care services and supplies are covered when you’re in the U.S. However, in general, Medicare won’t pay for health care services or supplies if you travel outside the U.S. (except in these rare cases).

That doesn’t mean you have to travel abroad without coverage. Here are 3 ways you can get health coverage outside the U.S.:

1.If you have a Medigap policy, check your policy to see if it includes coverage when traveling outside the U.S.

2.If you have another Medicare health plan (instead of Original Medicare), check with your plan to see if they offer coverage outside the U.S.

3.Purchase a travel insurance policy that includes health coverage.

Find out more at Medicare.gov.


Travel (when you need health care outside the U.S.)

How often is it covered?

In general, health care you get while traveling outside the U.S. isn't covered. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa are considered part of the U.S.

Medicare may pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, ambulance services, or dialysis you get in a foreign country in these rare cases:

You're in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.

You're traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency.

You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether an emergency exists.

In some cases, Medicare may cover medically necessary health care services you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S. Medicare won't pay for health care services you get when a ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.

Medicare drug plans don't cover prescription drugs you buy outside the U.S.

Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) policies may cover you when you travel outside the U.S.

Your costs in Original Medicare

You pay 100% of the costs, in most cases. In the situations described above, you pay 20% of the approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies.

In the situations above, Medicare pays only for services covered under Original Medicare:

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers hospital care (care you get when you've been formally admitted with a doctor's order to the foreign hospital as an inpatient).

Part B covers emergency and non-emergency ambulance and doctor services you get immediately before and during your covered foreign inpatient hospital stay. Medicare generally won't pay for services (like return ambulance trips home) in either of these cases:

Medicare didn't cover your hospital stay.

You got ambulance and doctor services outside the hospital after your covered hospital stay ended.

You pay the part of the charge you would normally pay for covered services. This includes any medically necessary doctor and ambulance services you get in a foreign country as part of a covered inpatient hospital stay. You also pay the coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles you'd normally pay if you got these same services or supplies inside the U.S.


Because Medicare has limited coverage of health care services outside the U.S., you may choose to buy a travel insurance policy to get more coverage. An insurance agent or travel agent can give you more information about buying travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn’t necessarily include health insurance, so it’s important to read the conditions or restrictions carefully.


Foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims. You need to submit an itemized bill to Medicare for your doctor, inpatient, and ambulance services if both of these apply:

You're admitted to a foreign hospital under one of the situations above

The foreign hospital doesn't submit Medicare claims for you

5 Replies

Thank you!! Very helpful!

I have just discovered today that for people resident in the UK and possibly other countries that Europe has been divided when it comes to medical care. Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey are classed as zone A and therefore insurance will be more expensive. The rest of Europe is classed as B therefore travel medical insurance is cheaper.

Just thought I had better add it to this string.


It says right on the front page of your passport that Medicare doesn't pay for services outside of the US. My mother and I traveled to Turkey some years ago and she got sick and had to go to a hospital while we were there. She had a supplement and it covered what she had to pay while there. You are correct - you need to check your supplement if you have one or buy travel insurance - even if you do.

Thanks for the information. Hadn’t thought about this issue before now. We are planning a trip to Canada in the fall. I need to check out whether or not my husband and I will be covered as obtain insurance if we’re not covered.

Thanks for the great research about medical coverage for travels outside USA. We haven’t been able to do that for a couple years, but travel is definitely in our future plans. Now I know I need to make sure I am covered for any medical emergency.

Wishing good days and good health to all.