If you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ve probably been wondering what Medicare Supplement will best suit your lifestyle.
Plan G is the best Medicare Supplement for traveling, because of its comprehensive coverage compared to other Supplements. If you’re traveling within the United States, you will have 100% coverage with any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare. If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., the benefits will amount to 80% of the invoiced charges for specific medically necessary emergency care (after you have met your $250 deductible).
Original Medicare doesn’t normally cover treatments outside of the United States and its territories. It is important to consider a Medicare Supplement plan in addition to Original Medicare to make sure you are covered.
Retirement looks different for each of us. If you’re planning on using your newly found time on traveling and have questions on what your plan will cover, keep reading.
Does Original Medicare Work If I Live Overseas?
No. Original Medicare will not cover any services that you receive while living overseas.
You can keep your Part A coverage if it’s premium-free for you, in case you travel back to the United States.
You may consider continuing to pay the monthly premium for your Part B coverage if you travel back to the U.S. frequently.
Remember, you will only be able to use this coverage in U.S. territories.
To be covered in your new country, you will need to sign up with private insurance or buy into their public health plan.
How Does Original Medicare Work if I Am Traveling Within U.S. Territories?
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you will have coverage anywhere in the United States and its territories, as most doctors and hospitals accept it.
The territories include Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
The amount that you pay depends on whether or not the provider accepts “assignment.” Those who agree accept the approved amount (by Medicare) in full.
In the case of outpatient visits, you or your Medicare Supplement provider may be responsible for the 20% coinsurance.
What is Original Medicare?
You have two choices when it comes to Medicare: Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C).
Original Medicare is a fee-for-service health plan. You can use any doctor or hospital you choose, anywhere in the United States.
Some people decide to buy extra coverage, such as a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy.
We’ll go through each of these in further depth below.
Medicare Part A is coverage for hospital (inpatient) care, skilled nursing care, hospice, and home health care.
Typically, it will cover anything major or catastrophic with one’s health that requires them to be admitted to a hospital for treatment.
It is available to all legal residents of the U.S. if they meet the necessary requirements that make them eligible.
Turning 65 or getting approved for Disability are some of the most common ways to qualify.
Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount when your deductible has been met. After that, you pay your share (coinsurance and deductibles).
Medicare Part B covers 2 types of services:
- Medically necessary services: Services or supplies that are needed to diagnose or treat your medical condition and that meet accepted standards of medical practice.
- Preventive services: Health care to prevent illness (like the flu) or detect it at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to work best.
You pay nothing for most preventive services if you get the services from a health care provider who accepts assignment.
Part B covers things like:
- Ambulance Services
- Clinical research
- Partial hospitalization
- Durable medical equipment (DME)
- Mental health care
- Limited outpatient prescriptions
Does My Medicare Supplement Plan Cover Me While I am Outside of the U.S.?
Some Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policies will provide coverage for abroad travels.
Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N will cover travel and pay 80% of the cost of necessary emergency care outside of the United States.
Plan C and Plan F are not available to those who are newly eligible for Medicare as of 2020 or later. Any for Medicare before 2020 can keep their Plan C or F and apply to enroll in them.
Plans E, H, I, and J also provide travel coverage for emergencies. Although they are no longer for sale, enrollees who have them can continue to use them.
If you have any of these plans – you will be covered for emergency care in foreign countries if it happens within the first 60 days of your trip.
They will pay 80% of the billed charges for emergency services after you meet the annual $250 deductible. Coverage for foreign travel has a lifetime cap of $50,000.
It is important to know your Medigap options before you travel outside of the U.S. so that you are covered for emergencies.
What is the Best Medicare Supplement for Traveling?
The best Medicare Supplement for traveling is Plan G.
Plan G covers almost all out-of-pocket costs for services and treatments once you pay the Part B deductible. This means no copays, no coinsurance.
It also includes international travel coverage benefits mentioned above in case of emergency medical situations while in a foreign country.
The benefits will amount to 80% of the billed charges for specific medically necessary emergency care (after you have met your $250 deductible). There is a lifetime cap of $50,000.
If you are traveling within U.S. Territories, however, you will have 100% coverage.
What is a Medicare Supplement (Medigap)?
Medicare Supplement plans work with Medicare Part A and Part B, referred to above as Original Medicare.
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance, and Part B is medical coverage.
Original Medicare Part A and Part B cover about 80% of your medical expenses.
Medicare Supplements help cover the other 20%. They also cover, deductibles, coinsurance, copays, and excess charges.
Medicare Supplements Have a Premium in Addition to Medicare
You’ll pay a monthly fee called a premium to have a Medicare Supplement.
Every Medicare Supplement is rated, based on the area that you live and your age. You can read more about that here.
This fee varies depending on which plan you choose.
Many people also like that Medicare Supplements give them the freedom to see any healthcare provider as long as they accept Medicare.
Medicare does not require you to get a Supplement, but many people do because they can significantly minimize your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
You must now be wondering, are my medications covered if I travel out of the country?
We’ll talk more about that, keep reading.
Does My Part D Drug Plan Cover Me While I am Traveling?
If you are traveling within the United States and need to fill a prescription, you may pay more than you would at home if the pharmacy is out of your plan’s network.
If you are traveling or moving to a foreign country, you will not be covered by your Part D drug plan.
Let’s go more into detail.
Traveling Within the United States With My Part D Drug Plan
If you buy your medications from a retail pharmacy, you must use one that is a member of your Part D plan’s pharmacy network to be covered by the plan.
Some, but not all plans provide countrywide coverage, which means you can visit in-network pharmacies in other regions of the country.
When you utilize the Medicare Plan Finder tool to pick a Part D plan, you’ll notice a blue “N” icon that indicates plans that have national coverage. If you’re already enrolled in a plan, you can get this information by calling the plan’s customer support number.
Most Part D plans also offer mail-order services, which can be useful for travelers who spend several months of the year in a different part of the country.
Traveling to a Foreign Country With My Part D Drug Plan
There is no overseas travel coverage for Part D prescription drug plans.
If possible, it is best to stock up on your medication before you leave the country.
Here are some good tips:
- Expect travel delays. Have more of your prescription on hand than you think you will need.
- If you’re going to be gone for longer than 30 days, see if your doctor is able to write a 90-day refill to cover you while you are traveling.
- Allow ample time for your prescriptions to be filled beforehand.
- Keep your medications in safe storage so they do not get lost or stolen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests keeping medications and copies of prescriptions in your carry-on bag.
Moving Out of the United States
If you decide to live abroad, you should disenroll from your stand-alone Part D medication coverage. You will not be eligible for benefits since you live outside of the plan’s service region.
It is your responsibility to let your plan know if you are relocating.
What is a Part D Drug Plan?
Medicare-approved private insurance companies offer Part D plans.
Part D plans pay for drugs not covered by Part A and Part B.
Those with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) can enroll in a Part D plan to add prescription drug coverage.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, prescription drug coverage is likely already included. If it is not, you can enroll in a separate Part D prescription drug plan.
Be careful – some Medicare Advantage Plans may not let you get a separate drug plan.
All plans that offer Part D coverage must cover standard medications decided by Medicare.
Does Medicare Advantage Cover Me While I Am Outside of the U.S.?
Often, plans will place restrictions on what is covered and what is not.
Unlike Original Medicare, Advantage plans can be limited by their service area. If you leave that area, you may not be covered anymore.
Some Medicare Advantage plans do cover emergency medical expenses during travel outside of the U.S. territories.
If you’re a traveler and thinking of a Medicare Advantage plan, check with the carrier first to see if they will cover emergency care in foreign countries. Some may offer travel coverage (both foreign and domestic).
Costs will depend on your plan’s rules about in-network vs. out-of-network providers.
What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?
Medicare Advantage plans are often called Part C of Medicare.
These are plans sold by private insurance companies approved by Medicare to cover most of your Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) services.
They help pay for things like major hospital stays, doctor’s visits, preventative care, lab work, meal delivery services, and Dental.
Advantage plans are the easiest way to get comprehensive coverage at the lowest cost, unlike Medigap plans.
If I Have a Medicare Claim While Traveling Outside of the U.S., How Do I File?
There are few exceptions where Medicare will provide coverage if you’re outside of the United States.
If you qualify for any coverage, you will need to submit your own itemized bill to be reimbursed. However, foreign hospitals don’t normally submit claims to Medicare on your behalf.
Therefore, you will be required to submit the following:
- An itemized bill from the foreign doctor or health care provider.
- A completed claim form.
- A letter explaining your reason for submitting the claim.
- Any supporting documents.
The address on where to send these documents can be found on the third page of the instructions on your claim form or on your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN).
Is There Insurance I Can Purchase Outside of Medicare?
Because Medicare restricts medical travel coverage outside of the United States, you may consider buying a travel insurance policy to get more coverage.
Not interested in ongoing premium payments? Purchasing travel medical insurance that is time-specific is an option.
This coverage will vary depending on the trip length and your age.
Keep in mind – travel insurance doesn’t necessarily have to include health insurance, so it’s important to read the conditions.
In conclusion, Plan G is the best Medicare Supplement policy for those who like to tour the world.
After you pay the Part B deductible, Plan G covers all out-of-pocket costs for services and treatments. There will be no copays or coinsurance.
In addition, it contains benefits for international travel coverage in the event of an emergency when visiting another country.
After you’ve satisfied your $250 deductible, the benefits will cover 80% of the billed charges for specific medically essential emergency care. There is a $50,000 lifetime limit.
You are completely covered if you’re traveling within the U.S.
Do you have any questions? Use the search tool at the top of this page or on the home page.
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