Founders Life and Health Blog
One of the most common questions I get from my clients is, “how does Medicare work if I’m traveling?”
The most important thing to remember is that there are rules depending on where you are going and what type of plan you have so let’s talk about it!
Whether you are planning to travel within domestic US borders or even traveling abroad, I will explain what you need to do if you get sick or have an emergency. We will also discover the different types of plans and how to use them.
Generally, Medicare can be used to cover emergencies when traveling around and also outside of the USA, but no doctor’s visits. Original Medicare works the same as within the US and covers doctors visits, but not if traveling abroad. Always check your plan thoroughly before traveling
Ok, so with the short answer covered let’s delve a little deeper. And let’s start with traveling within the United States…
Medicare and traveling within the United States
Firstly it’s crucial to understand what Medicare refers to with the phrase “traveling within the United States”.
You will need to know, so let’s find out below.
What Medicare considers to be the United States
Ok, so that’s covered what Medicare considers ‘ The United States.
When you are traveling within the US, there will be three different kinds of Medicare plans you could have.
These three plans are:
“it’s crucial to understand what Medicare refers to with the phrase ‘traveling within the United States.”
So let’s find out what each of these Medicare plans means to anyone wondering how to use Medicare When traveling within the United States, starting with original Medicare
If you are traveling within the US and have original Medicare, it’s good to know it works the same in every state along with everywhere else Medicare considers the USA.
You will be able to see a doctor along with any hospital treatment you require.
Original Medicare with a Supplement
This type of plan works the same as Original Medicare, so you can rest assured you will be able to see a doctor or go to hospital everywhere Medicare considers ‘The USA’.
For this reason, Original Medicare with a supplement is my most recommended plan for those who travel frequently.
I find that it makes it easier to understand this plan by describing the supplement as ‘filling the gaps’ within an Original Medicare plan. It’s also useful to understand there are no networks with this plan.
“Original Medicare with a supplement is my most recommended plan for those who travel frequently.”
Medicare Advantage plan
With a Medicare Advantage plan, you will be in a network. So although this doesn’t mean barriers to traveling on this plan, it does mean that depending on where you live, you are going to have your “in-network” cost in your “out of network” costs.
This means the deductibles, the co-pays, the coinsurance, are going to be higher than some of the other options if you have an Advantage plan.
With this plan, I strongly advise you to carefully look at the coverage and work out the out-of-network costs you might have to pay.
This way if a health emergency arises then you are 100 percent prepared. With Medicare with an advantage plan, the coinsurance and some of the deductibles are a little bit higher.
The annual enrollment period is October 15th through December 7th and at that point that’s when you can move plans if you are planning on traveling more in the future
Ok so what about traveling outside of the USA? Read on to discover more about how to use Medicare when you are traveling.
“I strongly advise you to carefully look at the coverage and work out the out-of-network costs you might have to pay.”
Medicare and traveling outside of the USA
Similar to traveling within the USA, there will be the same three options for traveling outside the USA.
Let’s explore all three below in more detail for those asking ‘how do I use Medicare when traveling
It’s important to understand if you are traveling outside the USA with a Medicare plan it doesn’t work the same.
However, it will cover emergencies in two ways…
If an emergency occurs within US borders
So original Medicare will cover you in an emergency even if the hospital nearest to you is across the border. For example, you might be traveling close to the southern border and your nearest hospital is across that border.
When traveling into Canada and Alaska
Your original Medicare will cover emergencies if you are traveling from the USA to Canada. In this instance, your original Medicare will cover any trip required to Canadian hospitals.
Original Medicare with a supplement
The golden rule here in a similar way to using this plan for traveling within the USA is to check coverage before traveling. Most emergencies will be covered, but check your plan thoroughly so you can prepare.
It’s important to remember that original Medicare with a supplement won’t cover regular doctors visits. However, it will cover emergencies. The emergency must take place within a 60-day time window from your date of leaving the USA.
“It’s important to remember that original Medicare with a supplement won’t cover regular doctors visits.”
Medicare Advantage Plan
In the same way as any of the Medicare plans, it’s worth making sure you investigate it fully before traveling. This is equally, if not more important if you are traveling outside of the USA. Similar to Medicare with a supplement, this plan won’t cover you for trips to doctors.
However, one of the chief benefits of the Medicare Advantage plan is that it has worldwide emergency services so it will cover you for any emergency you encounter if you are traveling outside of the USA.
The Medicare Advantage plan when traveling within the USA works likewise. It’s important to realize that you will be out of network on this plan, so for those who want to know how to use Medicare while traveling, you will need to check the ‘out of network costs’
As in any Medicare plan, check these costs before you travel.
Many of my clients also wonder how Medicare works when you are on a cruise, so let’s find out.
How does Medicare work if I am on a cruise?
When you are cruising, there’s a crossover between the USA and traveling outside, so for this reason there are particular Medicare rules which cover cruises. Medicare will cover emergencies on a cruise ship under 2 circumstances.
Short term travel insurance
The lesson so far is one of the most crucial things to remember is to thoroughly check your plan for the type of coverage it offers, there still might be a time where you have been unaware of your plans’ small print. To help out with this there is a short-term coverage that helps you whether you are traveling in the USA or abroad and is available on all the three main plans outlined above.
It’s a short term travel insurance which will reimburse you for:
I hope this article has helped you to discover the best ways of getting your Medicare working for you whilst traveling!
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube video on this topic and share it with anyone else you think might be wondering how to use Medicare while traveling!
Every week I cover a different Medicare topic to bring you all the answers on getting the benefits from your Medicare plan. So don’t hesitate to reach out with any Medicare questions you have, or even if you have a topic you’d like me to cover.
About the Author
Hello! I’m Jo Hutchison and I’m the owner of Founders Life & Health. I’m a proud baseball mom, lover of live music and all things potato.. My husband and I have two great boys and two lazy hound dogs. My boys play a LOT of baseball so when I’m not helping my clients we can almost always be found on a baseball field somewhere in the Midwest.
I’m a member of NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors) and a member of NAHU (National Association of Health Underwriters). I spend a good deal of my time working on educational outlets and working on healthcare policy change to help bring comprehensive and AFFORDABLE coverage to everyone. Nothing makes me happier than sharing the tidbits of knowledge that I know about the Medicare and health insurance world so people can make the most informed decisions about what plans they need.
The most important thing that I have learned through the years in this business is that each client has very different needs. Our goal is to listen to you, assess your needs, and use our experience and knowledge to help you make informed decisions about your health care coverage. We are an independent brokerage so we advocate for our clients, not the insurance companies.