Does Medicare Cover You When Traveling?

Read this before traveling with Medicare

by Amy De Vore+ on Nov 13, 2014 | 23 Comments

Share this article!

Original Medicare’s travel health coverage varies from extensive to non-existent. There are a few options to cover you when you’re traveling in and out of the U.S.


1) Medicare’s Travel Coverage Varies

Medicare has the widest network of doctors within in the United States, therefore you will be covered anywhere you travel in the U.S., as long as the doctor or hospital accepts Medicare.

Conversely, in most cases, Original Medicare will not cover any foreign health emergency outside of the U.S. and its territories, including cruising.

The U.S. Passports and International Travel stresses that, “Medicare does NOT cover health care overseas. We highly recommend that you obtain health insurance to cover emergency medical and dental treatment and for medical evacuation to the United States.”

2) Travel Insurance May Not Cover Pre-Existing Conditions

3rd party travel insurance is an option for anyone that wants to add coverage at the last minute. This travel insurance does not always cover pre-existing conditions and can be rather tricky when it does. First, you have to be medically stable and able to travel at the time of purchase, as well as, at the time of travel. On top of this, travel insurance can be very expensive, sometimes up to 11% of your total trip cost.

One final warning, if you don’t estimate your trip cost properly they don’t have to cover your preexisting condition either.

3) Medicare Advantage May Not Cover Emergencies Outside the U.S.

Medicare Advantage plans have a small network of doctors and hospitals. Therefore if you are traveling outside of your home state/network you most likely will not be not covered in the U.S. However, MA plans may cover you if you have emergency while traveling outside the U.S. It is important to remember that Medicare Advantage plans are not standardized, so you will have research this before choosing a plan.

Go here to see a Medicare Advantage Overview.

4) Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) MAY cover Foreign Emergency Care

Medigap has the same network of doctors and hospitals in the U.S., therefore you can travel anywhere within the States and your coverage is the same. As for emergency care when traveling outside of the country, 7 out of the 11 standardized Medigap plans cover foreign emergencies and health services.

Medigap Plan F is the most comprehensive by covering your Medicare co-pays, deductibles, and extra hospital days, as well as Medigap Plan F plan will cover up to 50k in foreign medical bills (as long as it is within the first 60 days of your departure.) Click here for a Medigap quote.

To learn more about protecting yourself against medical emergency costs while traveling beyond the U.S. borders call 800-930-7956 or contact Senior65.

Print Friendly Version

Share this article!

Reader Comments and Questions

By Debra on February 23, 2019

I need to go to Seattle for surgery that is not available in AK. Will Medicare pay anything towards travel? I have checked and the dr and hospital accept Medicare assignment.

Hello Debra,
Medicare typically will not cover transportation to another state, even if the doctor and hospital accept your Medicare assignment. You should confirm this with Medicare directly.

-Chris from

By Lee on October 24, 2018

Medicare policies that would cover Specialist Hospitals, ie, MD Anderson Cancer Hospital; Mayo Clinic, etc. I live in the state of Oklahoma.

Are you looking for a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap plan? Please give our office a call and we can help you.
-Eric from

By Sal on May 23, 2018

My friends wife had an extreme accident in Costa Rica requiring immediate air transport back to the US as there was not a facility, doctor etc capable of performing her necessary surgery. Her US doctor consulted with the medical staff in Costa Rica and determined her critical condition and welfare were at stake if she remained there and ordered her to be air transported back to Florida. The air ambulance domiciled in Florida took the doctor order and removed her from Costa Rica for immediate surgery in Florida. Will Medicare consider this claim for expense reimbursement?

Sorry for the ordeal you are going through. Our understanding is the following: While Medicare "may pay for emergency ambulance transportation in an airplane if your health condition requires immediate and rapid ambulance transportation that ground transportation can’t provide," it does not cover foreign travel medical evacuation. Please contact Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227 to confirm.
-Chris from

By Robert on November 05, 2017

I have Medicare and plan F supplement. I had a heart attack with a stent inserted after 2 weeks in Canada. I also have $25,000 medical Trip insurance. I received $60,000 in bills. Am I covered by plan F for the remaining $35,000. I also have question about hospital bill that appears to be very excessive. Should I contest the bill before submitting to insurance or do both ar same time. Robert,
If you worked with and we are assigned as your agent we are legally allowed to look into this and can help you make sense of your billing. If so, please give us a call to start the process. If not, you will want to call your assigned agent or reach out to your carrier directly. We wish you a speedy recovery.
-Eric from

By Hoda on November 01, 2017

My father has Medicare A and B. He was taken to a Hospital in Amman Jordan and is now in CCU . Will Medicare pay for emergency care abroad? Thank you

Sorry to hear about your father. Medicare does not cover medical services abroad. As outlined in this article, If he has a Medigap or a Medicare Advantage plans, he may have international coverage.
-Eric from

By sarah on April 06, 2017

My husband suffered a brain injury with subdural hematoma and frontal lobe hemorrhage secondary to a skull fracture 2 weeks ago. He has been in a ICU in Florida but lives in PA and is now responding to commands but still on a ventilator with a tracheostomy. He will likely be discharged to rehab in the next 2-3 weeks. His family is in PA and they have no where to stay with him in Florida. Are there any circumstances under which Medicare would cover air ambulance to PA since his recovery is likely to be protracted?

While Medicare does cover emergency air transportation and non-emergency transportation if necessary, you will need to contact Medicare directly to see if they will transport him in your very specific case. We do hope they agree to.
-Chris from

By James White on February 25, 2017

My wife is listed for a kidney transplant at Banner Hospital in Tucson. We were called to the hospital on Monday, 2/20/17 to receive the transplant, and immediately flew there. After waiting all night, the surgeons came the next morning to tell us the donated kidney was not viable. At that point, all we could do was to be discharged and return home. We had to arrange dialysis there and return home the following day. Will Medicare or our supplemental plan J compensate us for any of this expense?

If the hospital accepts Medicare assignment, you should be covered by Medicare and your supplement.
-Michelle from

By Ken on January 31, 2017

I have Medicare (original) and a supplemental, plan G. I had a medical emergency while on a cruise. I was attended to by the ship's doctor who also required an ultrasound from a provider at the next port (equipment that is not available on the ship). I received a bill for services from the ship's doctor and a bill from the doctor who performed the ultrasound. I submitted a claim to my supplemental insurance company . They only reimbursed me for the services of the ship's doctor and not for the services for the doctor who did the ultrasound. When I asked why the answer was "we don't pay for anything that Medicare doesn't cover". Medicare doesn't cover any foreign travel; Supplemental covers it and the only limitations that I have ever seen for foreign travel is that there is a $250 deductible and then a 20% co-pay. Who can I appeal this to?

Without more details it would be hard to make a determination. The only thing we can think of is the ultrasound was not considered "emergency" care, whereas the first doctor was considered an emergency. However, you should send in an appeal to your Med Supp company. We certainly hope this works out! Please write back and let us know the results of your appeal.
-Amy from

By ken on January 31, 2017

I have Medicare (original) and a supplemental, plan G. Is it true that only doctor's services are covered for foreign travel. and not medications and supplies that the doctor deems necessary?

While, Medigap isn't going to pick up the costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. or when traveling abroad, you should be covered for medically necessary emergency treatment, including administered drugs outsides of the U.S, with a plan like Medigap Plan G that offers foreign emergency travel care.
-Chris from

By Victoria Pomeroy on January 13, 2017

I may have to have surgery soon - I live in Pennsylvania - but since I don't have family here I would like to have the surgery in Memphis (where my son lives). Currently, I think my deductibles are paid by Access (Medicaid), and I know that they do not pay for out-of-state care. If I have surgery in Memphis, will Medicare pick up all of it or do I have to pay some kind of deductible?

Since you have Medicaid (and Medicare), you will need to contact them to see how you are covered.
-Amy from

By Howard Mathews on November 29, 2016

is there any medigap coverage plan that will cover one after 60 days out of the country?

No, there are not any Medigap plans that offer extended travel coverage. If you want coverage beyond that you will need to purchase travel insurance. For help with travel insurance call 800-930-7956.
-Michelle from

By Carolann Pepe on November 05, 2016

I have medicare part A and B and supplemental.. I live in Florida ..would I be covered if I choose to see a specialist out of state .

Yes, with a Medigap plan you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare assignment in the U.S. or its territories.
-Michelle from

By Rosalie on October 19, 2016

I have Medicare as my primary and Plan f as my supplement. Am I covered when traveling out of the country? Do I need to buy additional insurance? Thank you, Rosalie Kleopfel

Medigap Plan F offers foreign travel emergency healthcare insurance coverage when travelling abroad. There is a small deductible (approx $250), 20% coinsurance, and the plan pays up to $50K for a lifetime. There is one small thing to remember, your injury or illness must occur within the first 60 days of travel.
-Amy from

By Alice and Jerry Moye on July 14, 2016

We are going to Canada . We both have Medicare and a secondary insurance do we need travel insurance?

Alice and Jerry,
If you have a Medigap plan that offers foreign emergency travel insurance, then you would be covered for health care in Canada. If you want coverage for medical evacuation, trip cancellation, or lost luggage, you'll want to call one of our Senior65 licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Chris from

By Nora C Hamer on July 10, 2016

Does Medicare cover emergency medical evacuation costs from a US passenger ship within the US to a Medicare authorized hospital if the medical treatment aboard the ship if advised by the ship's medical staff? I'm asking specifically about a vacation river cruise on a US registered vessel sailing on a US river within the boundaries of the US.

If you are in the U.S., Medicare does cover emergency transportation (not usually considered an evacuation when in the States) in the U.S. and its territories. You will still have copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. You may want to consider a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan to limit your out of pocket expenses. Contact a Senior65 licensed independent insurance agent at 800-930-7956 for help finding a Medicare Health plan.
-Amy from

By on May 16, 2016

MY dad has medicare and medi-cal or medi/medi in CA, while visiting Mobile AL he had a stroke and has been in ICU, they now say he needs rehab or hospice becuase he had a massive stroke cant move his face/mouth or eat and is not responsive so they also gave him a surgery and he now has a cathether to feed him. They want to get him out of hospital release him and says his medicare wont cover any rehab or hospice in AL, what can we do- he cant talk walk speak or eat, so how do we get him help or back to CA where he has coverage. otherwise they just drop him off at my aunts house and we are on our own and he could die.

If he is enrolled in Medi-Cal and Medicare, he is probably enrolled in a Special Needs Medicare Advantage plan that has an HMO network. This means he's covered in any state for an emergency, but once he is no longer in the "emergency state" he would not be covered outside of his local network. You might want to contact Medicare and Medi-Cal about a medical transfer to CA for rehab care or Hospice care (remember Hospice is only given to someone who is given 6 months or less to live). If not, you should speak with his doctors in AL and see if they can help work with Medicare to make the transfer. We wish you the best!
-Amy from

By Lisa Glastein on March 30, 2016

My husband and I have medicare as our primary in addition to secondary and tertiary insurance. We have purchased travel health insurance to act as primary when we are out of the country. If we required treatment while we were abroad that had to be continued once we return home; does medicare then become primary? I was told that the travel health insurance only covers you while you are abroad. A friend was hurt while away. They did not have appropriate medical help for her and it was better to stabilize her and have surgery at home in the States. When she got home medicare said that because treatment was given abroad they were not responsible for covering her treatment. what does one do to avoid that situation?

Unfortunately, with the limited information of her situation, we would not be able to help you determine why she was denied, or if this could happen to someone else. We suggest that your friend contact Medicare directly to find out why she was denied coverage, and she may need to file an appeal. What we can say is, if she had a Medigap policy that covered foreign emergency travel healthcare, this should have not been an issue. To learn more about Medigap plans call one of our licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Amy from

By Karen Buchholz on February 17, 2016

I have Plan F Medigap Insurance. Does this plan cover medical evacuation costs when traveling internationally?

Unfortunately, Medigap does not pay for foreign travel emergency evacuation costs. You will want to look into travel insurance for this type of coverage.
-Amy from

By Sue on January 16, 2016

while in Florida I developed a blood clot in my leg. I was admitted to hospital. Stayed overnight and the next day I was told I needed to stay an additional 3 days in order for the medication to work. I have been through this before and asked to be put on a different medication and released. The Doctor okayed this and I was released. Will Medicare pay for this?

Original Medicare has you covered in all states and its territories. So, while you were in Florida, Medicare picked up its part of the bill. With that said, you will still owe your Part A deductible ({partA_deduct}) for your hospital stay, your Part B deductible ({partB_deduct}) and coinsurance for doctor care/administered medication, and your Part D deductible (if applicable) and copay/coinsurance for prescription costs if the drugs were filled at a pharmacy.
-Amy from

By Mary on December 02, 2015

My mom is 77, we are from Oregon, visiting my daughter in Fl she fell and had Emergency surgery then developed several blood clots in her lung ended up in ICU and now they found a mass also in the lung, cancer, and her doctor wants her to go on hospice here in Fl. Does hereMedicare follow her or do I have to change from Oregon to Fl

Thank you for your question. You will want to contact your mother's insurance provider to confirm her coverage. If she has Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement (not SELECT), she should be covered by any doctor or facility in the U.S. and its territories. However, not knowing her insurance or coverage, we could not tell you definitively what is the best course of action.
-Michelle from

By EMILY DUTCHER on July 19, 2015

I live in NYS but the surgeon is in Arizona that may be willing to remove my cavernoma. If I travel to Arizona to this doctor, would the surgery be covered?

Thank you for your question. If you have Medicare and/or Medigap, you have nationwide coverage; however, without knowing this doctor/your plan, we wouldn't know if/how you are covered. If you have Medicare Advantage, you, most likely, are not covered out of state. Call 800-930-7956 to learn how you are covered.
-Jacima from

By Elsie on May 29, 2015

Hello, My mom is traveling. She has a medicare advantage plan that does cover emergencies for out of the counrty travel but she also purchased travel insurance. Both are claiming that the other is primary. Who is primary?

That is an excellent question. However, after a little research, each Medicare Advantage plan and travel insurance can choose to be primary or secondary. For your mother's specific situation, we suggest contacting CMS directly to find out what they suggest.
-Chris from

By Melissa Caston on April 21, 2015

If I have Medigap Plan F do I also need travel insurance?

Thank you for your question. The answer is it depends. If you have Medigap Plan F it covers emergency travel health care, but not insurance for lost luggage or the expense of missing a trip for an illness. For further help call 800-930-7956.

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot comment on specific Medicare claims. Contact Medicare directly if you are trying to see if your issue is covered.

We will not publish your last name or email if you submit this form.

Share this article!

It's 100% FREE to work with Senior65

Call our licensed agent today at 800-930-7956. Click here to learn 5 great reasons to work with