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Have Travel Plans? Don’t Forget To Pack Your Medicare Card!

With Spring here and Summer on the horizon we are entering prime travel season. Many people take advantage of these warmer months to take trips to see family and loved ones, or to visit far off places that have never been. No matter the reason for your travel adventure, we know that you will want to be as prepared as you possibly can for whatever may arise, including injury or illness. So, when packing away all of your important travel documents, you may be wondering if you should travel with your Medicare card.

The answer is yes!  You do not want to forget to include your Medicare card and secondary insurance card (if you are enrolled in a secondary plan) when you travel! 

Here are some things you need to know if you are on Medicare and plan to travel.

If you have Original Medicare:

  • If you are a Medicare beneficiary with Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you can travel anywhere in the United States and still be covered as long as you use doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare. Medicare, in most cases, does not cover the care you receive while outside the country however-
  • There are a few situations in which Medicare may cover you outside of the country if you need medical care from a foreign hospital:
    • Medicare will pay for emergency services in Canada if you are traveling a direct route, without unreasonable delay, between Alaska and another state and the closest hospital that can treat you is in Canada.
    • Medicare will pay for medical care you get on a cruise ship if you get the care while the ship is in U.S. territorial waters. This means the ship is in a U.S. port or within six hours of arrival at or departure from a U.S. port.
    • Medicare may pay for non-emergency in-patient services in a foreign hospital (and connected physician and ambulance costs). It is covered if it is closer to your residence than the nearest U.S. hospital that is available and equipped to treat your medical condition. This may happen if, for example, you live near the border of Mexico or Canada.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan:

  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan may not cover your care while you travel within the United States unless you need emergency or urgent care. If the plan does not allow you to see providers outside of the network or area, you will generally have to pay more for the care, unless it is emergency care. You may also be required to follow other plan rules like obtaining prior authorization before you receive medical services, except in the case of emergency or urgent care. Before you travel it is suggested that you contact your plan to see what rules and costs would apply when you travel within the United States. 
    • If you are travelling overseas, Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, so you will be covered in limited situations. (the same as listed above) However some MA plans may provide additional coverage when travelling outside of the US.

If you have a Medicare Supplement Plan:

  • A coverage option for Medicare beneficiaries traveling outside of the United States might be a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap plan. Medicare Supplement plans work alongside Original Medicare and may help with certain costs that Medicare doesn’t pay for. Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M and N provide some degree of emergency coverage during foreign travel. (up to the plans limits)
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