Medicare and Travel Coverage

Medicare typically does not cover hospital stays or nonemergency inpatient services when you travel outside the United States. Medicare coverage for international travel depends on the type of Medicare plan you have. Medigap plans may help cover some emergency overseas health care costs.

Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) generally does not cover international health care you receive outside the United States.

However, health care is covered in some U.S. territories — including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands — if doctors or health care providers in these areas accept Original Medicare.

If you travel outside these territories, the 50 states or the District of Columbia, you are usually responsible for 100 percent of any health care costs.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Exceptions to International Medicare Coverage
  • You are in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital.
  • You are traveling from Alaska through Canada when a medical emergency occurs, and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital.
  • You require medically necessary health care services on board a ship or boat that is docked at a U.S. port or is less than six hours away from a U.S. port.

It’s important to note that even under these rare exceptions, you are still responsible for a 20 percent coinsurance payment for any services you receive. Your Medicare Part B deductible also applies.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Travel?

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans must cover the same limited foreign emergency care expenses as Original Medicare.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional coverage as well. Certain rules and restrictions may apply.

For example, your Medicare Advantage plan may require you to pay your expenses upfront and get reimbursed by the insurance company later. Other plans might cap overseas travel benefits.

It’s important to check the details of your specific plan for more information. Make sure to contact your plan provider to ask about costs and coverage rules.

Travel Medical Insurance

Because Medicare’s international coverage is so limited, you may want to consider buying a travel insurance policy if you frequently visit other countries.

Travel medical insurance can be used in conjunction with any Medicare plan or Medigap policy.

Travel insurance doesn’t always include health coverage, so make sure to carefully review conditions and restrictions.

Did You Know?
Prescription drugs purchased outside the United States are not covered by Medicare Part D plans.

International Coverage with Medicare Supplement (Medigap)

If you are a frequent international traveler, purchasing a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policy can help absorb some overseas health care costs.

Medigap plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M and N pay 80 percent of the billed charges for emergency care outside the U.S.

However, these Medigap policies only cover foreign travel health care if:
  • You’ve met a $250 yearly deductible.
  • Your emergency care begins within the first 60 days of your trip.
  • Medicare doesn’t already cover the care.

It’s important to note that Medicare Supplement plans are only used with Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage enrollees can’t sign up for a Medigap plan.

Make sure to check with your Medigap provider to learn more about health care coverage while traveling.

Did You Know?
Medigap policies have a lifetime limit of $50,000 for foreign travel emergency coverage.

How to Submit Foreign Claims with Medicare

Original Medicare only covers international health care costs under a few uncommon circumstances.

However, if you receive Medicare-covered services under these exceptions, you will need to fill out some paperwork.

Because foreign hospitals are not required to file Medicare claims, you may be required to submit an itemized bill to Medicare for any foreign health care services you receive.

If you receive Medicare-covered services on a cruise ship, the doctor will file a claim on your behalf.

For more information on where to send a foreign claim, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and print the Patient’s Request for Medical Payment form (CMS 1490S).

You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Last Modified: June 25, 2020

4 Cited Research Articles

  1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2012, July 10). Medicare & You: Traveling Abroad. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq2WbpPK-9c
  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medicare Coverage Outside the United States. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11037-Medicare-Coverage-Outside-United-Stat.pdf
  3. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Medigap and Travel. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/medigap-travel
  4. Medicare.gov. (n.d.). Travel. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel