Medicare and Travel – What You Need to Know

Are you thinking about traveling soon? Maybe you want to catch up on your Medicare coverage and what you will need to travel with for peace of mind? Knowing your Medicare coverage when you travel is highly beneficial to you for many reasons. It will help you to understand your options in case you have a medical emergency while traveling. That way, you are always going to have your health care options readily available.

When you go on vacation, Medicare’s coverage depends on where you are going and how you receive your Medicare benefits. There is quite the difference between traveling within the United States and traveling outside of the United States. Here is what you need to know when traveling with Medicare.

Traveling within the United States and its Territories

Traveling within the United States with Original Medicare means you have coverage anywhere in the U.S. and the U.S. territories. This means all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. Most doctors and hospitals in this area will accept Original Medicare.

With Medicare Advantage Plans, your plan may or may not cover care outside of your service area. Some Advantage Plans cover out-of-network services, but it comes with a higher copayment or coinsurance. For better reference when it comes time to travel, you can contact your Advantage plan carrier to see what your rules are and what out-of-pocket costs will apply when traveling out-of-network in the U.S.

It is essential to know that if you travel outside of your Medicare Advantage plan’s area of service for longer than six months, that will automatically disenroll you from most Medicare Advantage plans. You will get another chance to join a different Medicare Advantage plan during a Special Enrollment Period if this happens. If you choose not to enroll in a new Advantage plan during this time, you’ll be automatically enrolled into Original Medicare.

Traveling Outside of the United States

When you are traveling outside the United States and its territories, Medicare won’t cover medical treatment. There are however certain instances where Original Medicare and Advantage Plans must cover your medical treatment outside of the U.S.:

  • Medicare will pay for treatment if you are in Canada and travel a direct route without delay to Alaska and another state, and the closest hospital for treatment is in Canada.
  • Medicare will pay for treatment if you’re on a cruise ship and the care is within U.S. territorial waters. I.E., the ship is on a U.S. port or within six hours of arriving or departing a U.S. port.
  • In certain situations, Medicare will pay for treatment in a foreign hospital that is non-emergency.

If you are looking for coverage when traveling outside of the United States, rest assured that specific Medigap policies give you coverage when traveling abroad. Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M, and N will cover 80% of emergency medical treatment costs while traveling abroad. If you have a Medigap policy and wonder if your policy includes this, contact your carrier, and find out your coverage rules.

Specific Medicare Advantage Plans also may cover emergency treatment while abroad. You can contact your carrier for information on what your coverage includes.


Now that you have caught up on Medicare and its benefits, you can travel with a better peace of mind knowing the basics of traveling with Medicare. When deciding you want to travel, the first thing to do is establish if that travel will be within the U.S. and its territories or abroad.

Once you decide that, consider your plan. Do you have Original Medicare? A Medicare Advantage Plan? A Medigap plan? Call your insurance carrier and ensure that you are covered in the areas you will be traveling in. You may have specific benefits and coverages in your plan that you are not aware of.

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