Medicare Does Not Cover International Medical Claims

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Many Americans dream to travel the world when they retire. They have worked all their lives and they feel as though they deserve it, and they do. Americans over 65 are all eligible for Medicare for their medical insurance. Medicare is great because it costs less and has better benefits than many plans for individuals and families under 65 years old. Most people do not realize that there are limitations to Medicare and they will need to consider alternatives when Medicare does not cover certain things.

International Medical Claims
International Medical Claims
Before the 2003 Medicare law was passed, Medicare did not cover any prescription drugs. Now with part D in place, that is an area that Medicare has improved. Like the gap in prescription drug coverage, Medicare still has gaps in coverage that are important. One major feature is that Medicare does not cover international travel. If you are fortunate enough to travel in your retirement with a loved one, you will not have medical coverage if you are sick outside of the United States. If you can get transportation back to the United States and get your treatment domestically, Medicare will cover any accident or illness that happened overseas. But it will not cover any procedure done outside of the United States.

There are options for people traveling internationally and have Medicare. One option is to pay for medical expenses out of pocket. That means self-insuring internationally. This is not unusual, and it is OK for some areas because the costs are much less internationally. However, if there is a lengthy hospital stay or a major surgery, the costs might be more than some people might be able to bear.
Medicare Does Not Cover International Medical Claims
traveling internationally


There are solutions for international travelers that will cover any expenses outside of the United States as well as emergency evacuations should you need to be transported home for procedures. The options available for international coverage are generally less than domestic plans because health care costs are lower outside of the United States. There are also fewer regulations for international insurance plans than there are for domestic plans. While each domestic medical insurance plan has to be approved by each state's department of insurance, international plans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the state. This keeps the cost low even though the international plans provide benefits just like the domestic plans.

Medicare Does Not Cover International Medical Claims
department of insurance


While you do have to medically qualify for international health insurance plans that are more than six months in duration, many short term international plans do not have health questions. Pre-existing conditions are not covered, but any new illness or injury that occurs on your trip will be covered. These international travel insurance plans are available for as few as 5 days to as many as 365 days with no underwriting. The age requirements are much more lenient as well. Most domestic plans are only available to American individuals who are under 65. While many international travel plans are available to people in their 90's.

There are many different companies that offer plans. I recommend that you do research online to determine which plan you think fits your situation the best. Many websites allow you to compare plans and apply online without talking with an agent. An agent is usually available to answer questions by a phone call on the better websites. Take a few minutes while preparing for your world vacation to make sure you are protected in the event of a medical emergency. I recommend the Atlas Travel Insurance plan by HCC Life insurance company, but there are many companies with good plans. You can get quotes, information, and apply online at the link in my resource box. When you travel, have a good time. But be prepared if something unexpected happens with international travel medical insurance.