Monday, June 27, 2022

Does Medicare Cover International Medical Emergencies

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Q: Will My Health Plan Cover Me If I Have A Medical Emergency While Overseas

Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

A: More health plans cover this kind of care than routine care performed abroad. Even then, don’t be surprised if you find out yours puts limitations on care for medical emergencies that happen when you’re outside the U.S.

Talk to your insurer about what these exceptions or limitations may be before you travel.

Does Medicare Cover International Medical Care

Original Medicare typically only covers you in the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the following territories:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Northern Mariana Islands

The three exceptions to this rule are:

  • You experience a medical emergency in the U.S., but the closest hospital that is equipped to treat your injury or illness is outside of the U.S.
  • You live in the U.S., but the nearest hospital that can adequately treat your condition is located outside of the U.S. Medicare will provide coverage for you at the foreign hospital regardless of whether or not its an emergency.
  • You experience a medical emergency while traveling the most direct route between Alaska and another state without unreasonable delay, and the closest hospital to your proximity is located in Canada.

Medicare may also cover medically necessary services on a cruise ship. The ship must be in a U.S. port or no more than six hours away from a U.S. port at the time the services are rendered, and only when the doctor is allowed under certain laws to administer medical services aboard the cruise ship.

Only services that are covered by Medicare Part A or Part B will be covered in the above situations. Any non-covered services will be billed to the patient in full.

What Does Medically Necessary Mean

According to Medicare, medically necessary refers to services or supplies that are required for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, and must align with the standards of medical practice. Before embarking on any medical transport paid for by Medicare, a physician needs to certify that the trip is medically necessary.

For example, a patient with End-Stage Renal Disease will need a NEMT vehicle equipped with a dialysis machine for the medical trip. The term medically necessary also applies to a cystic fibrosis patient who needs a mechanical ventilator to go on a doctors appointment.

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Can I Use Medicare Supplement Insurance In Another Country

Original Medicare wont typically cover health care or medical supplies you receive in a foreign country.

Certain Medicare Supplement Insurance plans do offer some coverage for foreign travel emergency health care.

Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M and N each provide foreign travel emergency care coverage, which you should keep in mind as you travel overseas.

Traveling Internationally With Rrb Medicare

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If you were a railroad worker and qualified for Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board, your benefits are slightly different from those most Medicare recipients have. In addition to the situations above, you could also receive some coverage while living in Canada with RRB Medicare.

This coverage is through Part A only, not Part Bwhich is to say youre covered for hospital stays, but not doctors appointments hospice, but not lab work. Learn more about Part A vs. Part B to better understand what your coverage limitations will be.

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Other Advice Related To Health Insurance And Overseas Medical Services

Here are some other things to keep in mind while preparing for vacation or trip that’ll take you out of the country:

  • Don’t forget to take your insurance policy identity card and a sample claim form with you.
  • Think about taking a credit card with a substantial limit with you, too. You may have to use it to pay for unexpectedly large doctor or hospital bills.
  • Be prepared to pay up front for any medical treatments or services you receive abroad. Even if your health insurance or supplemental travel plan covers this kind of care, you may need to wait until you return home to be reimbursed for it.
  • Ask foreign doctors and hospitals for clear copies of all bills, medical records, discharge notes, and other documents tied to the medical services you receive.

Should I Have Medicare Coverage If I Retire Abroad

For coverage in your new country, youd need to purchase private health insurance or buy into the countrys public health plan, if that option is available. If youre willing and able to return to the United States for hospital care, youll still have access to Medicare Part A .

But youd need to purchase Medicare Part B in order to have outpatient coverage, and theres a 10% premium increase for each year that you were eligible for Part B but not enrolled . Advocacy groups have pushed for Medicare coverage to be portable for retirees who choose to live overseas, but so far, its not.

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Does Medicare Cover Air Ambulance Services

There are a variety of situations in which you might need some form of ambulance service. If youre injured in an automobile accident or a serious fall at home, for example, you might need to be rushed to an emergency room. In some cases, though, medical personnel might suggest an air ambulance. Since this is an expensive option, you might hesitate because youre not sure if Medicare coverage extends to air ambulance services.

Medicare Ambulance CoverageWhether you have Original Medicare Part A and Part B or are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may have some coverage for ambulance services. As a general rule, the plans strongly favor ground transportation ambulances because the service costs are substantially lower. That being said, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage plans will also cover air ambulance services in some cases.

Medically NecessaryThe defining question in terms of Medicare coverage for air ambulance services is this: Is it medically necessary? Your care must require immediate and rapid ambulance transportation that ground transportation cant provide. Medical necessity can look very different to a doctor than it does to Medicare. An example of medical necessity might be if you require a specialized, complex, time-critical surgery.

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Traveling Internationally With Original Medicare

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Made up of Part A and Part B , Original Medicare is the backbone of most retirees health-care coverage. But, for the most part, it doesnt cover you unless both your feet are firmly planted on US soil. The good news is that US soil includes popular destination territories such as Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.

There are a few exceptions. You could receive coverage in the following situations:

  • You live in a border town in the US, but the closest hospital is in another country.
  • You need emergency dialysis .
  • Youre on a cruise ship within six hours of a US port with a US-approved doctor.
  • Youre traveling to or from Alaska via Canada, and an emergency occurs. To receive coverage, you must be on a direct route and travel without delay.

If you receive coverage in one of these situations, be prepared to file your own insurance claims. Foreign hospitals arent required to file Medicare claims for you like US hospitals are.

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Ask Your Insurer These Questions Before You Leave

It should be clear by now that one of the first things you have to do before heading overseas is to read through your health insurance policy or the “Summary of Benefits and Coverage.” Either or both of those documents will tell you what your plan does and doesn’t cover while traveling internationally.

If it doesn’t, go online or pick up the phone and contact your insurer. Then ask questions such as:

  • What does my health plan cover if I’m outside the U.S.?
  • Does it cover emergency medical evacuations?
  • Are there any exclusions I need to know about before leaving the country?
  • Will my policy cover me if I’m injured during a high-risk activity like mountain climbing, parasailing, or scuba diving?
  • Do I have to get pre-authorizations or second opinions before you’ll cover any overseas treatments or surgeries?
  • How do I handle deductibles or copays while abroad?
  • What do I do when I return home and have to file a claim?

Will Medigap Or Medicare Advantage Provide International Medical Coverage


If youve added Medigap to your Medicare plan as a supplement, there are six plans that will provide some coverage for medical emergencies outside of the United States. However, for these expenses to be covered, medical care must start within 60 days of leaving the U.S. A typical Medigap plan will contain a lifetime benefit maximum of $50,000, in which the patient pays a $250 deductible plus 20% coinsurance.

The downside to Medigap is that theres a very limited window of time in which youre qualified to enroll, so many seniors miss the opportunity to ever enroll in this coverage.

Medicare Advantage

If youve purchased Medicare Advantage, there are some plans that do offer coverage for any medical costs that arise during international travel. However, because each plan and policy is different, youll need to check with your carrier to see if they offer coverage, and if they do, what exactly is offered.

Although there are special circumstances and plans that offer coverage beyond domestic healthcare coverage, these are few and far between. In general, if youre traveling outside of the United States, your medical treatment costs will not be covered by Medicare, which means you should purchase a travel health insurance plan to cover you.

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Getting Medicare While Traveling Or Living Overseas

Many retirees look forward to traveling in their retirement, and more and more are actually retiring overseas, in part as a way to stretch savings. But what happens to retirees’ federal benefits while they are out of the country? The short answer is that although Social Security benefits are available to retirees in other countries, Medicare generally is not. In this installment we look at Medicare.

Traditional Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States . In rare cases, Medicare may pay for inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico.

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Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage benefits for health care needs when enrollees travel outside the United States. But those retiring overseas — or travelers enrolled in the traditional Medicare program or whose Medicare Advantage plan does not cover foreign travel — will need to purchase health insurance from another source.

Whatever option retirees choose while abroad, if they return to the United States they will still be covered by Medicare Part A. Medicare Part A covers institutional care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, as well as certain care given by home health agencies and care provided in hospices. There are no premiums for this part of the Medicare program and anyone who is 65 or older and is eligible for Social Security automatically qualifies.

For more about the Medicare program, .

Do Medigap Plans Cover International Travel

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Medigap plans are supplemental insurance policies designed to cover the out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare, such as copays, coinsurance and deductibles. These plans, which are sold through private insurers, may also provide coverage for medical services or supplies received while traveling outside of the United States if they’re not reimbursable through Medicare.

Medigap Plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M or N cover medically necessary services for individuals who seek emergency treatment for an accident or illness during the first 60 days of a trip. Before coverage begins, beneficiaries must meet a $250 annual deductible, after which theyll be responsible for 80% of billed charges. The program has a lifetime cap of $50,000 for international travel emergency coverage.

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Can I Buy Travel Insurance To Help Pay For The Cost Of Health Care Services

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 when you travel. An insurance agent or travel agent can give you more information about buying travel insurance. Please be advised that travel insurance doesn’t necessarily include health insurance. So it’s important to read the conditions or restrictions carefully.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover International Travel

Several Advantage plans provide coverage for emergency health services outside of the U.S. Often, plans may place restrictions on specific health services.

Your policy will need ample time to inform the carrier of your upcoming trip. At that time, they will explain how claims and reimbursement will work.

If you find yourself traveling outside your Advantage plans service locations for more than six months at a time, you may be disenrolled from the plan automatically. There are a few Medicare Advantage plans that offer exclusive benefits that may allow you to stay in your health plan even if you travel continuously for up to 12 months.

Its always a good rule of thumb to check with your policy before any travel to determine what your limitations are.

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Does Medicare Advantage Provide Coverage While I’m Traveling Internationally

Some Medicare Advantage plans cover medical emergencies that arise during foreign travel. If youre considering Medicare Advantage and are planning to travel outside the United States, check with the carrier to see if they cover emergency care outside the United States. Medigap plans cannot be used in conjunction with a Medicare Advantage plan.

If your Medicare coverage is supplemented by retiree health benefits from your employer, check with your plan to see if you have coverage for emergencies during foreign travel.

Does Medicaid Cover Ambulance Charges

What Does Medicare Cover?

Yes, medicare covers ambulance rides that are medically necessary. Emergency medical transportation is a benefit for all health first colorado members who have a critical or unknown illness or injury that demands immediate medical attention to prevent permanent injury or loss of life.

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Does Medicare Cover Overseas Travel

Original Medicare typically does not pay for emergency care when youre traveling outside the U.S. There are a few exceptions:

  • If youre in the U.S. and have a medical emergency, but the nearest hospital capable of treating your condition is in a foreign country, Medicare may cover allowable charges.
  • If youre traveling through Canada on a direct route to Alaska and you need emergency care, Medicare may pay for your treatment if a Canadian hospital is closer than a U.S. hospital.
  • If youre on a cruise ship in U.S. territorial waters and you need health care services, Medicare may cover allowable charges if the ship is more than six hours from a U.S. port.

Keep in mind, if you do get covered health care services outside the U.S. under the circumstances mentioned above, your normal Part A and Part B deductibles apply, as well as any copayment or coinsurance amounts. In addition, although U.S. hospitals must submit a claim to Medicare on your behalf, this is not true of foreign hospitals. Youll need to get itemized bills from the hospital, doctors, ambulance service, and any other health care providers you see, and submit them yourself to Medicare upon your return.

Do I Need Travel Insurance If I Have Health Insurance

While on a rainforest hike in Costa Rica, you catch your foot on a liana vine and crash to the ground. As your ankle swells to alarming proportions, you manage to hobble back to the jeep and reach a nearby private hospital. But when you pull out your U.S. health insurance card, the hospital staff shakes their heads. It’s cash up front or nothing.

This happens more often than you think. Travelers assume their health insurance works overseas but not every insurance plan will cover you for every destination and situation. If you’re planning a trip abroad and wondering, “Do I need travel insurance if I have health insurance? here’s how to find out.

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Can Medicare Be Used Outside The United States

In addition to the United States, Medicare may be used in any U.S. territory. This includes:

  • Guam
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The Northern Mariana Islands

Medicare Part B may also be used to cover medical services received on a ship if the vessel is located within the territorial waters adjoining land areas of the United States. However, if the ship would have to travel more than six hours to reach a U.S. port, Medicare wont pay for onboard medical services.

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  • If you get admitted to a foreign hospital which is closer than a US hospital that can treat your emergency medical condition.
  • If you get admitted to a Canadian hospital which can treat your medical emergency while travelling between Alaska and any other state and you are crossing Canada.
  • If you get admitted to a hospital nearest to where you are staying which can treat you under emergency medical condition.

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Q: Do Most Health Insurance Policies Cover Routine Doctor Or Hospital Visits When A Policyholder Is Traveling Outside The Us

A: Actually, most health plans don’t cover that kind of medical care. Or at least they don’t cover all of it. Most of the plans that cover it at all consider it an out-of-network service. This means you have to pay for more of the bill than you would if you received the care in the U.S.

To find out what kinds of medical care your plan covers or doesn’t cover while traveling, contact your insurance provider.

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