Does Medicare cover travel emergencies while outside the U.S.?

Does Medicare cover travel emergencies while outside the U.S.?

For travelers, it's highly recommended to maintain health coverage in the event of an emergency. Although Original Medicare coverage does not apply outside the United States, some Medicare Supplement plans, aka Medigap, may provide coverage.

Original Medicare and Travel Coverage

Original Medicare Parts A and B do not cover medical services outside of the United States. Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) also doesn't cover medications purchased outside the U.S.

The United States is considered by Medicare to include:

  • District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Some exceptions include:

  • You live in the U.S. and the nearest hospital to provide condition treatment is outside the U.S.
  • You have a medical emergency traveling between Alaska and another state by most direct and available route. Medicare may cover care in a Canadian hospital if it nearer than a U.S. hospital.
  • You have a medical emergency in the U.S. but the nearest hospital is outside of the U.S.
  • You require dialysis in an emergency situation outside of the U.S. that is not routine dialysis.
  • You have a medical emergency on a cruise ship. The ship must be more than 6 hours from a U.S. port and only an authorized doctor is permitted to provide treatment.

Medigap Plans

Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) is optional and may be obtained from a private insurance company. Medigap covers costs outside Original Medicare such as coinsurance and copayments. Across 47 of the US states there are 10 standardized Medigap plans, each named with a letter (e.g. Plan M). In these states, Plan M will offer the same coverage regardless of where an individual purchased it. 

The three exceptions are Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin which have their own standardized Medigap policies.

Medigap Travel Coverage

Some Medigap plans provide coverage for emergency medical services outside the U.S.

Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M and N cover 80% for emergency care outside the U.S. if your condition meets all of the following:

  • It's medically necessary.
  • Care begins during the first 60 days of travel.
  • Medicare does not cover this service.
  • Medigap deductible has been met for the year.

Medigap Plan E, H, I and J cover overseas medical emergencies but are not currently being sold. Medigap plans with emergency medical coverage outside U.S. have a lifetime maximum coverage limit of $50,000. Contact your Medigap insurance company for more details about travel coverage. You also have the option to purchase additional travel insurance.

For help finding a Medicare plan, try our Medicare Plan Revealer

If you have any questions, please contact Medicare at any time at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY users 1-877-486-2048).

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Does Medicare cover travel emergencies while outside the U.S.?