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Does Medicare cover medical care when traveling to a foreign country?

As a general rule, Medicare does not cover medical care in a foreign country.  There are a few very limited times when Medicare must cover care outside the United States. One example: Original Medicare will pay for emergency services in Canada if you are traveling a direct route, without unreasonable delay, between Alaska and another state and the closest hospital that can treat you is in Canada.

Some Medigap policies (Medicare supplement insurance) provide coverage for foreign travel emergencies. Medigap plans C through G and M and N cover 80% of the cost of emergency care abroad during the first two months of a trip with a deductible of no more than $250 and up to $50,000 in a lifetime. The emergency must occur within the first 60 days of the trip. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for foreign travel, usually for an additional premium.  Those who have elected Medicare Advantage should check with the plan about coverage outside the United States. 

If you plan a trip outside the United States, also check out travel insurance.  It might be the better option.

One note for those in Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin: Your state does not follow the standardized approach to Medigap policies discussed above. However, each of these states offers a version of coverage for foreign travel emergencies. 

For more information, check out "Medicare Coverage Outside the United States." 

Last updated: 08-26-2016