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Does Medicare Coverage Work Overseas

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Does Medicare Work Anywhere

How Medicare Supplemental Coverage Works While Traveling

The short answer is No. Medicare coverage isnt equal anywhere you go. Some Medicare plans don’t provide for coverage beyond the state or county where you live and where the plan was purchased. That may be a concern for people who travel a lot or who live half the year in one place and half the year in another. You may fly south to winter in a warmer locale or travel north in the summer to escape extreme heat.

If you spend a good portion of the year somewhere other than your home state, you have some decisions to make about how you want your Medicare coverage to work and what youre willing to pay.

Does Medicare Cover You On A Cruise Ship

Part A and B usually cover any medical care thats necessary while on a cruise ship, as long as the cruise ship is still within U.S. waters. The cruise ship will have to be within six hours of the nearest U.S. port.

The treating physician must also legally be able to provide medical care onboard a vessel. If your cruise ship further than 6 hours out, you will not receive coverage from Original Medicare.

Traveling Internationally With Original Medicare

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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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, .

International Living: Everything You Need To Know About Medicare Overseas And Why Expats Should Enroll

Medicare Supplement Coverage When Traveling Overseas

With a few exceptions for emergency or urgent care, Medicare plans will only cover you within the U.S. and its territories. But should you maintain your coverage when you move abroad? Expert Ron Elledge answers some common questions.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and over. It also extends to certain younger people with disabilities and those with ESRD .

How Does Medicare Work?

Medicare is divided into parts A, B, C, and D. Parts A and B make up Original Medicare and are usually automatically received at age 65. Part A covers hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, and home healthcare under certain circumstances. Part B covers medical services received from a doctor and supplies that are medically necessary to treat your health condition.

Part C Plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans provide all of Part A, Part B, and, in many cases, Part D benefits. Some Advantage Plans include worldwide emergency care services as well as dental, vision, gym memberships, and more.

Part D covers prescription drug coverage and must be purchased separately as a stand-alone Part D policy or in a Medicare Advantage Plan .

What if I plan to be a part-time retiree, living four to six months abroad each year, and then returning to the States for the rest of the year what should I do about Medicare?

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Medigap Coverage Outside The United States

Medigap is supplemental insurance offered through the Medicare program. Its different from Medicare Advantage plans in that it doesnt cover things like long-term care, vision, dental, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing.

Medigap is another private insurance option within Medicare thats designed to help cover costs like deductibles, copays, and other medical services not covered by other Medicare parts.

Medigap plans provide coverage for care related to medical emergencies that happen while youre outside the United States. This type of insurance is often used to provide coverage during international travel.

Medigap can also help offset high deductibles and copays for insurance while you travel. In fact, depending on the plan you choose, Medigap may cover up to 80 percent of international medical emergencies once youve met your deductible and youre within your policys maximum limit.

How Can Medicare Advantage Plans Pay For Foreign Travel

Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same benefits as Original Medicare. Consequently, the same emergency care provisions under Medicare Parts A and B apply with Medicare Advantagealso called Medicare Part C, including coverage for:

  • Allowable charges when the nearest hospital is in a foreign country
  • Urgent care needed when traveling through Canada on a direct route to Alaska and a Canadian hospital is closer than a U.S. hospital
  • Allowable charges for care received on a cruise ship in U.S. territorial waters if the vessel is more than six hours from a U.S. port.

Medicare Advantage can pay for additional international care expenses because it is managed by private carriers. However, the medical services covered depend on the plan, destination, length of travel and care needed during the trip. Some plans require paying upfront and getting reimbursed.

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Which Medicare Advantages Plans Cover International Travel

Some Medicare Part C plans include a benefit covering 80% of medically necessary urgent care received abroad. The care must begin during the first 60 days of each trip, after paying a $250 annual deductible. These plans carry a lifetime maximum benefit of $50,000. Cigna and Aetna are two companies that do have plans that cover international travel.

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Medicare For People Who Live Abroad But Plan To Move Or Fly Back Frequently

Medicare and Travel | How Medicare Works When Traveling

As with Medicare benefits, youre also able to collect Social Security benefits while living abroad in most countries if youre eligible. Receiving or being eligible for Social Security benefits can qualify you for premium-free Medicare Part A.

Social Security considers you living abroad once youve stayed in a foreign country for at least 30 consecutive days. Once you return to the United States and stay for more than 30 consecutive days, youre no longer deemed living abroad.

Social Security has a screening tool for determining your eligibility to receive payments overseas.

When , consider your budget and how often youll be returning to the United States. It may be more convenient to keep your coverage if you plan to move back eventually. This will prevent you from having to go through the enrollment process again. However, youll have to pay the premiums while living overseas.

For example, a retiree who plans to travel abroad for several years but flies back several times a year to visit family can keep their current Original Medicare plan and get additional travel health insurance to ensure they have coverage regardless of their location.

In some cases, you may qualify for a special enrollment period that allows you to delay enrollment without penalty until you return to the country.

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Does Medicaid Or Medicare Cover Me Abroad

If you are a Medicaid recipient, you may be dropped from enrollment in the medical plans if you do not keep a U.S. state residence or address or if you lose your SSI eligibility . Loss of enrollment creates a gap of coverage upon return home from traveling abroad, especially if the travel health insurance does not cover you in your home country.

Individuals who are entitled to Medicare and leave the United States are still enrolled in the Medicare program The issue is that Medicare will not make payments for services given or supplies sent outside the United States.*

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident on Medicare, consider purchasing a Medicare supplement plan from a local insurance agent instead of getting separate international coverage. This supplement will cover you for the first 60 days of a trip outside of the United States. There is a $250 deductible. After meeting the deductible, the insurance will cover 80% of all billed charges up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. This “Foreign Travel Emergency” benefit is just one of the many benefits included in the supplement package. The premium will likely be between $100 and $150 depending on your age, and if you already have a Medicare supplement, you may only need to add as little as $9.00 for overseas coverage.**

Contact the Social Security Administration and the Medicaid/Medicare office for more information .

** Information from: Good Neighbor Insurance, subject to change

Medicare Plans Will Always Cover Emergency Care

The one thing you don’t have to worry about regardless of what kind of Medicare coverage you have is an emergency while travelling in the country. Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover emergency and urgent care anywhere in the U.S. without any additional costs or rules about coverage.

Everyones travel and health care needs are different, so check and compare your coverage options carefully.

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Traveling Internationally With Rrb Medicare

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.

How Much Of My Overseas Medical Expenses Do Medigap Plans Cover


Medigap travel benefits are very limited. If you are concerned about the possibility of a medical emergency while traveling, consider buying private travel insurance. If you have a Medigap plan with travel coverage, choose a private plan that provides secondary coverage. Your Medigap plan will be your primary insurer and pay first. The private plan will cover what Medigap doesnt. Secondary travel insurance is generally cheaper than primary travel insurance.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it is possible that your plan covers you when you are outside of the U.S. Check before purchasing private travel insurance.

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Medicare For Australian Citizens Overseas Clearing Up The Confusion

For any Australian expat who is confused about the Medicare for Australian citizens overseas, take a look below.

An Australian resident , living and working overseas as an expat will remain liable for a 2% Medicare Levy , if their taxable income exceeds $27,475 and $46,361 plus $4,257 for each dependent child for 2017-18.

In addition to the Medicare Levy, if the income of an Australian tax resident exceeds $90,000 or $180,000 a further Medicare Levy Surcharge of between 1 2% applies if they do not maintain private health cover for all their dependents, even when they are not living in Australia.

Note that the Australian Taxation Office uses a special definition of income called Income for Medicare Levy Surcharge purposes in determining who is required to pay the surcharge. For the purposes of this email I wont run through every element of income that is included in that definition as too much detail is required, but you might be surprised to learn that tax losses are added back in as income, as are any tax exempt income that you may have earned .

So what are the implications if I am an Australian tax resident whilst living and working overseas?

In short, if youre working overseas, youll remain liable for the Medicare Levy. And since you are liable for the levy, it also means that you remain eligible to use Medicare as and when you need it, whenever you are present in Australia.

What about the Medicare Levy Surcharge? Do I have to pay that too?

What Is An Appropriate Level Of Health Cover

As stated on the ATO website, for singles, an appropriate level of cover must have an excess of $500 or less. Couples or families must have an excess of $1,000 or less.

What if I am a non-resident?

If you are a non-resident for Australian taxation purposes, then you will NOT be required to pay the Medicare Levy, and neither will you be liable to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Can I still use Medicare when I am a non-resident?

There are so many misconceptions about a non-residents entitlement to Medicare, particularly from the Australian accounting profession, but also among expat circles generally.

In fact most expats and their accountants will emphatically state that if you are a non-resident and youre not required to pay the Medicare Levy then, under no circumstances will you be eligible to claim Medicare benefits.

However, that advice is nonsense. In fact, if youve ever received that advice, then your advisor has done you a great disservice as that advice it is INCORRECT.

So lets lay this question to rest once and for all.

If you are an Australian citizen who is a non-resident expat, living and working overseas, although you cant use Medicare forever, you CAN use Medicare and claim Medicare benefits for a period of up to 5 years from the date that you first left Australia.

Can I access Medicare services outside of Australia?
What countries does Australia have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with?

But, let me try and answer it this way.

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Medicare Coverage When Living Abroad Temporarily

If youre living abroad temporarily and plan to travel back to the United States, it would be beneficial to enroll in Medicare. That way, youll be able to access Medicare benefits upon your return.

To sign up for Medicare abroad, you can contact your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The contact information for offices in different countries is listed on the Social Security website.

However, there are three situations in which Medicare may pay for Medicare-covered health care services in a foreign hospital.

Medical emergency:
You experience a medical emergency when you’re in the United States, but a foreign hospital is closer to you than any domestic hospitals that can treat you.
Medical emergency while traveling:
You experience a medical emergency when traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay via the most direct route between Alaska and another state, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat you.
Non-medical emergency:
You live in the United States but the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition.

If one of the situations above applies to you, you would pay the same amount out-of-pocket as you would if those services were accessed in the United States.

In that case, youd have to submit an itemized bill to Medicare for the health care services you accessed.

Traveling Internationally With Medigap

US Citizens Might Not Have to Give Up Medicare to Live Abroad

If you have Original Medicare and you plan to travel abroad regularly, consider adding a Medigap plan to your coverage. You could have foreign travel coverage for emergencies.

There are 10 Medigap plans available, but not all of them cover international travel. Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N cover 80% of these expenses. If you already have Plan E, H, I, or J , you could receive coverage while traveling internationally.

Other Medigap plans won’t add any international coverage to Original Medicare.

All services must be medically necessary, and you may need to meet any applicable Medicare deductibles first . Because this coverage applies only to emergency care, it’s not for things like medical equipment or preventative care.

Medigap coverage may not be the most reliable health insurance option for long-term travelers. For one thing, you must begin care within 60 days of leaving the US. After that, you’re on your own. Also, this coverage has a maximum lifetime benefit of just $50,000. If you plan to circumnavigate the globe or live abroad, you may need to look elsewhere for coverage, such as travel health insurance.

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