While you may not know your specific travel plans when you enroll in Medicare, just knowing that you plan on traveling can make a big impact on which Medicare plan is best for you.
Traveling Within the U.S. With a Medicare Advantage Plan
Many Medicare Advantage plans do not cover travel within the United States, except for Emergency and Urgent care. If you are traveling outside of your home state or provider’s network you most likely will not be not covered while you travel, unless you are having an emergency. For example, your Washington State Medicare Plan may not keep you covered in Oregon. Not all plans are the same, however, so you will need to research whether a provider covers travel before selecting a plan. These are they key points to keep in mind:
- Emergency services must be covered by your plan, wherever you are.
- If you see a doctor for non-emergency services and he/she is not in your plan’s network, you may have to pay more than usual.
- When preparing to travel, you should check your plan’s Summary of Benefits or Evidence of Coverage documents, or call your plan directly, to determine what is covered and what isn’t.
Information For “Snowbirds” with a Washington State Medicare Plan
If you live in one part of the country for part of the year, and a different area for the other, (Such as living in Washington State during the summer and Florida in the winter) then it is doubly important to know your plan’s travel policy. Many Part C plans will automatically dis-enroll you if you travel outside of your plan’s service area continuously for more than six months, and you will be placed into Original Medicare if you do not pick a new plan. Not all plans will dis-enroll you if you leave their service area for six months in a row, however. Some plans provide special benefits that allow you to stay in the plan even if you travel continuously within the U.S. for up to 12 months. If your plan offers travel benefits, look at their rules closely. Only certain areas may be included, or certain care may not be covered.
Traveling Internationally with Medicare Insurance
If you travel outside of the U.S. often, certain Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans provide worldwide or emergency coverage when you travel outside the United States. However, if traveling abroad you should keep the following in mind:
- Medicare drug plans can’t cover prescription drugs you purchased outside the U.S.
- While hospitals within the U.S. are required submit claims to Medicare for you, foreign hospitals are not required to do the same. If you are admitted to a foreign hospital that does not submit Medicare claims on your behalf, then you must submit an itemized bill to Medicare personally.