Medicare does not automatically cover you when you travel abroad. Because of this risk, if you intend to travel overseas, you may want to purchase supplemental Medicare insurance that will protect you if you get sick while overseas. While there are some situations where original Medicare will cover you, you will be much safer with Medigap.

What Original Medicare Covers

Medicare does not usually pay for supplies or services that you receive outside the United States. However, there are a few exceptions. If you are within the United States and a foreign hospital is closer than a hospital within the United States, your Medicare will cover the treatment. For instance, if you are near the Canadian border and a Canadian hospital is much closer, you may be taken to that hospital. This is especially true if the closest hospital capable of treating your condition is in another country. If you are traveling from Alaska to the United States while taking the most direct route and you have a medical emergency, Medicare will cover the treatment. Medicare will only cover the services you receive within that hospital.

Some Americans don't realize that they can receive treatment outside the 50 states. Americans can use Medicare in territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Medigap Options

The Medigap plans that provide overseas coverage include C, D, F, G, M, and N. You will be required to pay for 80% of the medical expenses and will also have to pay a $250 deductible. Plan F is the most comprehensive option. It will cover up to $50,000 and will cover extra hospital stays.

Purchasing Short-Term Or Travel Insurance

Another option, besides Medigap, is to purchase short-term insurance. Medical travel insurance is another option, but you will want to make sure that you do not pay for unnecessary coverage such as canceled trip insurance. Another downside is that you will often not be covered for pre-existing conditions. If you have a condition that requires regular treatment, you might be restricted on your travel options if you need treatment while you would be overseas.

Purchasing Medicare Advantage Plans

If you want to make sure that you are always covered, it is a better idea to purchase Medicare supplemental insurance from a company like Senior Care Insurance Services. Medicare Advantage plans will also sometimes provide coverage for those who travel abroad, but the coverage will not extend if you choose to retire abroad.