Medicare and Travel
January 12, 2023
By Dan Gibson
You’ve worked hard throughout your career. Now, in retirement, without the worries of deadlines, work emails and other job-related matters, you’ve set your sights on the next phase of your life. You want to enjoy traveling while you are still physically able to do so. First, however, it is worth reviewing your Medicare coverage before having to deal with an unexpected illness or injury while traveling.
Coverage for the unexpected depends on where you go and what type of Medicare plan you’ve chosen. Generally, you can pick between Original Medicare (Parts A and B/Medigap Supplemental Coverage) or a Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans have their own pros and cons. However, coverage during travel away from home can have its own nuances.
In most cases, if you are traveling within the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you will be covered by Original Medicare with Medigap plan. However, when traveling outside of these borders, including cruise travel, Medicare will generally not pay for medical care unless it is an emergency. For most of the Medigap plans, foreign travel emergency care is covered if it begins during the first 60 days of the foreign trip, and Medicare does not cover the emergency care.
Typically, a Medigap plan will pay 80% of the costs of emergency care after a $250 per-year deductible. Furthermore, this foreign-travel emergency coverage includes a lifetime limit of $50,000.
Though Medicare Advantage can often cost much less than its cousin, Original Medicare, the Medicare Advantage plans often come with restricted coverages to certain regions of the United States. So even if traveling within the U.S., the insured may not be—except for certain emergency occurrences—eligible for coverage under the plan for which they signed up.
Always review your policy’s travel provision to ensure that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Given the aforementioned restrictions, consider purchasing additional travel insurance. Even then, make sure that this additional travel insurance is not restricted by pre-existing conditions and accidents resulting from “adventurous” activities.