Medicare and Foreign Travel

When I was 23, I fell down a mountain while jobbing in Mexico. It was my 2nd trip. My tumble resulted in some serious scrapes and cuts. The nurse at the school I was studying strongly suggested that I get a tetanus shot since I couldn’t remember the last time I had had one. I found a doctor who under stood a little English and I supplied the rest in Spanish. I think he injected me with the right stuff because I didn’t die or turn green. I paid him $10 US dollars. I was no worse for the wear. It is easy to bounce back when you are 23.

I’m currently 53. I don’t think I would have bounced back as readily now, but I also probably would not been running up a mountain. Accidents, however, do happen. They happen at home, and they happen abroad. A common question I get from baby boomers who travel is: ‘what will Medicare cover abroad?’ The answer is fairly simple. Nothing. Now let me offer some nuance.

Medicare and Foreign Travel

Original Medicare will cover you if you find an American hospital in a foreign country. Not very likely. You could claim Medicare when you are on a cruise if you are within 6 hours of the mainland. Original Medicare is not your solution for medical coverage in a foreign land.
Medicare Advantage may cover you for emergency and urgency care needs worldwide with some plans. You need to check your specific Medicare Advantage plan. Check under emergency and urgent care.
Medicare supplements or Medigap plans offer some minimal coverage. You generally have a $250 deductible. They will pay 80% of the medical cost up to a $50,000 LIFETIME limit. Of course, any serious accident, heart attack, stroke etc. will eat into that amount very quickly. Check the specifics of your plan.
So what is the solution? One of two things. Cash. Don’t leave home without it, and travel insurance. You can purchase travel insurance for the duration of your trip to cover anything devastating at a reasonable rate.
Vacation is about fun, so plan.  Planning for the worst will insure that you have the best time during your time in the sun.

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