Planning to travel while on Medicare? Make sure you have coverage at your destination


For many older Americans, retirement means freedom to explore beyond your backyard. Before you take off, however, check whether your health insurance travel with you.

Assuming you’re on Medicare — most adults age 65 or older are — coverage away from home depends partly on where you travel to, along with whether you’re on basic Medicare or get your benefits through an Advantage Plan. It also can depend on whether the care you get is routine or due to an emergency.

And while travel medical insurance can be the solution to plugging holes in coverage, it’s worthwhile first determining whether you need it.

Original Medicare consists of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient care). Retirees who choose to stick with that coverage — instead of going with an Advantage Plan — typically pair their coverage with a stand-alone prescription-drug plan (Part D).

If this is your situation, coverage while traveling in the U.S. and its territories is fairly straightforward: You can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare (most do), whether for routine care or an emergency. It’s when you venture beyond U.S. borders that things get trickier.

Generally speaking, Medicare does not provide any coverage when you’re not in the U.S. There are a few exceptions, such as when you’re on a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the country — within six hours of a U.S. port — or you’re traveling from state to state but the closest hospital to treat you is in a foreign country (i.e., you’re in Canada while heading to Alaska from the 48 contiguous states).

About a third of retirees on original Medicare also purchase supplemental coverage through a Medigap policy (you cannot pair Medigap with an Advantage Plan). Those policies — which are standardized from state to state but vary in price — offer coverage for the cost-sharing parts of Medicare, such as copays and co-insurance…..Read more>>