As you may know, Americans are NOT covered by Medicare when traveling or living abroad. That said, many expats should consider enrolling in one or more parts of Medicare. We will break down your options below, but if you are new to this site, read this good overview of Medicare first.
Medicare Part A: Hospital Coverage
Medicare Part A usually has no fee and most people should enroll in it even when living abroad. If you are outside of the US you will usually have to do this at a US Embassy or consulate. You can typically enroll in Part A three months before turning 65.
Medicare Part B: Doctor Coverage
Medicare Part B has a fee which is based on your income. It can get pretty pricy depending on your situation (see second chart on page). You should enroll in Part B if you are going back and forth to the US on a regular basis. If you plan on living abroad long term, you can waive this coverage, but be aware there can be penalties if you try to sign up later.
Penalties/waiting periods if you don’t enroll in Part B
Normally, you will be subject to waiting periods and penalties if you don’t sign up when your first turn 65 but try to sign up later. However, if you or your spouse work for an employer or are self-employed in a country with a public national health service, you may be able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This means you can waive Part B without suffering fees or waiting periods, should you want to enroll at a later date. Confirm this before waiving Part B.
Medicare Part D: Drugs
Medicare Part D is something you will also want to delay if you are living abroad. Moving back to the US will trigger a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Part D drugs. Your SEP begins the month before your move and lasts up to two months after the month you move.
Medigap or Medicare Advantage
Medigap and Medicare Advantage can help address the coinsurance, deductibles, and other fees that Medicare doesn’t cover. The window for enrollment in these additional insurance products vary based on your situation, but may require that you have a US address to enroll. Give us a call and we can help review your situation and explain your timeline.
Please Note: This is just a general overview of some of the options you should be considering when living abroad. Since rules and laws change frequently, you should confirm your specific situation with Medicare directly.
We are Senior65.com and we help people across the US enroll in Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Part D. Please contact us if you have questions on these three Medicare insurance products.