HomeHealth InsuranceDoes Medicare Cover International Travel?

Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

Original Medicare does not cover medical care when you travel outside of the U.S. Medicare does cover international health care in certain situations. When Medicare covers overseas healthcare and how you can get coverage when traveling abroad.

Takeaways from the Key Notes

  • In four cases, Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans pay for Medicare-covered international services.
  • Many Medicare Supplement Plans cover emergency medical treatment abroad.
  • Most comprehensive travel insurance policies cover evacuation and emergency medical treatment if you are abroad.

When does Medicare cover healthcare services abroad?

Only four circumstances exist in which Original Medicare and Medicare Benefit plans will pay for Medicare-covered services outside of the U.S.: 1

  1. If you have an emergency medical condition in the U.S., the nearest hospital that can treat it is located in another country.
  2. If you have a medical problem in Canada, while traveling between Alaska and another U.S. State without “unreasonable delays,” a Canadian Hospital is closer to your location than the nearest U.S. Hospital that can treat it.
  3. If you live in the U.S. and the nearest U.S. facility that can treat an emergency or non-emergency condition is far away, then a foreign hospital may be able to help.
  4. If you have Medicare Part B, and receive medical care while on a ship in U.S. waters, while docked in a U.S. Port, or within 6 hours of your arrival or departure, then this is covered.

What areas does Medicare consider the U.S.

According to Ari Parker a Medicare expert, and author of the book “It’s Not That Complicated” about navigating Medicare, Medicare was created to cover health care only in the U.S. The U.S. is made up of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. It also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam in the Caribbean as well as the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, in the South Pacific.

Parker stated that “anywhere else would be considered outside of the U.S.”

What does Medicare pay for in four situations?

Parker stated that Medicare would only cover services approved by Medicare in foreign hospitals. Medicare, for example, won’t pay for prescription drugs purchased outside of the U.S.

Medicare part A and Medicare part B cover doctors, inpatient treatment at hospitals, and ambulance transport for medically needed services, provided you are admitted to a hospital for covered medically-necessary inpatient services.

You must usually pay for the service yourself and then submit the itemized bill to your doctor to claim the benefits. Medicare claims are not required to be submitted by foreign hospitals to your U.S. healthcare provider.

Your plan will pay for the Medicare-covered services if the hospital submits a claim. The remaining costs are paid by you through copays, deductibles, coinsurance and copays.

Medicare Benefits for International Travel

The majority of Medicare advantage plans do not cover travel to states outside your service area. These plans don’t usually cover international travel. These plans will only cover medical expenses in the first of four situations.

Some Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for travel abroad. Some plans, for example:

  • International doctors and hospitals are in the network
  • You can stay enrolled if you are traveling abroad for longer than six months.
  • Prescription services abroad

Review your summary of benefits to determine if your plan covers international travel.

Medicare Supplement Insurance for International Travel

The majority of Medicare supplement insurance plans can cover emergency medical care in foreign countries. Medigap plans C, D G, M and N are currently available. They cover medically-necessary care abroad.

Here’s the fine print on these plans:

  • Emergency treatment must be received within 60 days after travel.
  • To qualify for the $250 annual deductible, you must also pay any previous deductibles.
  • Plans only cover 80%.
  • The maximum lifetime amount is $50,000.

The enrolled can also receive coverage for discontinued plans (E,F,H,I,J). Medigap Plans A, B and K do not cover foreign emergencies.

What to do if you travel abroad and need medical coverage?

There are several alternatives to Medicare if you plan a trip overseas and need coverage for medical emergencies.

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance covers unexpected expenses that may arise while on vacation, including emergency medical care and short-term medical expenses. It also provides coverage for evacuations for medical reasons. Medicare does not cover air evacuation. 2

Be aware, however, that your costs could be higher if 65 years old or older. You may also be excluded from coverage if you have pre-existing conditions. Some plans limit coverage or application to people under a specific age. Over 75s may find it more difficult to get coverage.

To reduce costs, consider an annual medical insurance plan. It should not be based on your age or have a lower minimum level of coverage. If you suffer from chronic health problems, select a plan which does not exclude preexisting medical conditions.

Medicare Advantage Plans with Travel Benefits

Medicare Advantage plans may include a travel benefit that allows you to get additional medical treatment. You’ll typically pay for services out-of-pocket and get reimbursed later by your insurance provider. These Medicare Advantage Plans may be difficult to locate, since most only cover certain geographic areas.

Get Medicare Supplement Plan Coverage

If you are eligible for Original Medicare, it may be possible to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan (also called Medigap), outside of the initial enrollment period, depending on where you live or what your situation is.

You may have to pay a higher price for the coverage if you buy it later. You could also be denied coverage if you are a smoker or have a medical condition. To buy a Medigap plan, you may need to do extensive research on Medigap providers.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Does Medicare pay for prescription drugs outside the U.S.

No, Medicare Plans do not cover prescription drugs outside of the U.S. Bring your prescription medications with you if you are planning a trip overseas. If you need assistance getting prescriptions while in a foreign land, contact your insurance provider.

Do Medicare Services Cover Medical Services on Cruise Ships?

Medicare plans may cover medical services during a cruise, depending on where the ship is located. Medicare will cover expenses only if your ship is in U.S. waters, docked in a U.S. harbor, or within 6 hours of one. Prepare for medical coverage ahead of time to avoid debt. Compare the cost, coverage and limitations of the medical coverage offered by the cruise ship to those you could purchase from a travel insurer.

Does Medicare Supplement Plan G Cover International Travel?

Medigap plan G covers your emergency medical costs when you travel internationally for the first 60-days. After you have paid the $250 annual deductible, 80% of Medicare covered services will be covered by this plan. The remaining 20% is your responsibility.

Do I qualify for Medicare if I move outside the U.S.

You can still get Medicare if you’re an American citizen who moves outside of the U.S. and lives as a expatriate. The benefits are minimal. You are only covered for emergency medical care if you meet the criteria and only during a limited time period. You can still use all of your Medicare benefits when you return to the U.S.

The Bottom Line

Medicare Original and Medicare Advantage Plans provide limited coverage for medical expenses when traveling abroad in certain situations. Travel insurance may be the best way to get medical coverage when traveling outside of the U.S. You can also look into a Medigap (if you still have Original Medicare) or a Medicare advantage plan with extra travel benefits.


Adsrocks’s writers are required to use primary resources to support their writing. White papers, government statistics, original reporting and interviews with experts in the industry are some of these sources. Where appropriate, we also refer to original research by other reputable publishers. Our editorial policies will tell you more about our standards for producing accurate and unbiased content.

  1. Medicare.gov. ” Travel Outside of the U.S.
  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Taking a Trip?” “Travel Insurance Information You Should Know Before You Go.”
  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ” Medicare enrollment: U.S. citizens living abroad


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