Medicare Supplemental Coverage When Traveling – Are you concerned about your Medicare Supplemental coverage while traveling? It’s a legitimate concern. Thankfully, it’s easy to travel across the U.S. with Medicare Supplement insurance. However, traveling abroad doesn’t have the same benefits.
Medicare Supplemental Coverage while Traveling
The biggest perk when traveling with Medicare is the large provider network. According to CMS, as of January 2017, there were more than 515,000 Medicare providers actively receiving payments.
Medicare’s Provider Network
Medicare’s massive network is beneficial to you while traveling in the United States. But, do you worry that a Medicare provider won’t accept your Medicare Supplement plan in the next zip code, city, or state?
Not to worry…
Medicare Supplement insurance can travel with you across all 50 states and U.S. territories.
The U.S. territories include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa & the Northern Mariana Islands. Just remember, if a provider accepts Medicare, they also accept your Medicare Supplement plan. And, it doesn’t matter who your Medicare Supplement insurance company is.
For example, you can buy a policy with an insurance carrier in your state of legal residence, and use it when you travel to another state. This is true even if the insurance carrier doesn’t sell Medicare Supplement plans in the visiting state.
Again, it’s not about the name of the Medicare Supplement insurance carrier. It’s about visiting providers in Medicare’s network. That’s the key to obtaining Medicare Supplemental coverage while traveling.
Thankfully, the process works seamlessly because the provider actually sends your claim to Medicare. Medicare processes the claim and electronically sends it to your Medigap insurance carrier. And, since the provider sends your claim to Medicare and not your Medigap insurance company, it doesn’t matter where the provider is located.
Medicare Supplemental Coverage and Foreign Travel
Medicare’s benefits are very limited when it comes to foreign travel. And, in most cases, Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t pay for health care or supplies outside the United States.
However, there are three situations that Medicare will cover health care services in a hospital setting based in Canada and Mexico. But, these situations have very strict qualification rules. You can view the details of these rules in CMS’s four page publication.
Let’s focus on Medicare Supplement plans and coverage outside the United States. Medigap Plan letters C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M, and N pay 80% of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care needs outside the United States.
This only occurs after you meet a $250 annual deductible. It’s important to note, Medigap policies, listed, cover foreign travel emergency care during the first 60 days of your trip. And, each plan has a lifetime limit of $50,000.
Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage Plan Travel Benefits
To be clear, Medicare Supplement insurance and Medigap Plans are the same type of coverage. The terms are used interchangeably. However, Medicare Supplement insurance is not the same as Medicare Advantage Plan coverage. And, they definitely don’t work the same while traveling.
Medicare Advantage Plans don’t use Medicare’s vast network. Why? Because, Medicare Advantage Plans are HMO and PPO health plans. And, they have service area networks dedicated to your zip code or county.
So, depending on the Medicare Advantage Plan’s benefits, it may not cover your care while you travel in the United States or territories. Variables such as length of travel, travel destination, and the type of care you need will impact whether or not the Medicare Advantage Plan will provide coverage while traveling.
So, with a Medicare Advantage Plan, it’s important to carefully check the plan benefits to see what’s covered. Otherwise, you may find yourself receiving bills from providers who are out of the plan’s network.
In regards to foreign travel, some Medicare Advantage Plans cover emergency care outside the United States. But, again, you have to check the plan benefits to see what costs and rules apply.
Which is completely different than Medigap plans. With Medicare Supplemental coverage you don’t have to constantly check plan benefits or your provider network. As long as the provider accepts Medicare (in the U.S. and territories), you’re covered. So, your Medigap Plan F, Plan G, or Plan N will pay accordingly. This offers great peace of mind and ease of use compared to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Case Study: Medicare’s Network vs. Advantage Plan Network
I’m pleased to share an example of how Medicare’s network came in handy for my father-in-law. He was visiting us before traveling out of the country. And, the day he was leaving for his trip, he noticed an unusual spot on his skin. Since it was uncomfortable, he wanted to have it examined before his trip.
However, he was too far from his dermatologist and needed to find someone close to our house. Knowing his Medigap plan would be accepted by any Medicare provider, he was able to visit a dermatologist with no network issues.
Now, it would have been a different story if he had a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Since he was in a different county and zip code, he would have also been out of the plan’s service area. So, his choices would be limited to seeing a provider out of network OR waiting until he returned from his trip.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t an emergency, so it definitely wouldn’t be covered once he left the country.
Bonus Tips: Part D Coverage while Traveling with Medicare
Tip #1: Make sure you choose a Part D plan that has national coverage, so you can have prescription drug coverage while traveling. It’s easy to determine if a plan has national coverage using Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool. Just look for the blue letter “N” that indicates National Coverage.
You can also watch the video included in this post…where, at the 7:50 mark, I show you how to identify national coverage.
Tip #2 Make note of any Part D plans that only provide coverage at one retail location. For example, (in 2017) the Walgreens Rx Plan provides prescription drug coverage only at Walgreens locations. So, if you choose a Part D plan with one retail location, make sure that pharmacy is available to you while traveling. Especially, if you live in another state part time.
Final Thoughts about Medicare Supplements While Traveling
Peace of mind is what Medicare Supplemental coverage offers while traveling. The vast Medicare network, with over 515,000 Medicare providers, means you have choices. Knowing you can visit any provider who accepts Medicare, regardless of your Medigap insurance carrier adds more value to your coverage. Which makes quick trips, or long visits, easy for you while traveling with Medicare.
By working directly with REMEDIGAP you will have personal agents. We’re dedicated to help you throughout the entire process – from education, applying, and ongoing service. You may have many questions or none at all. Either way, we’ll customize our approach based on your needs. We make sure you’re getting the best value with your Medigap plan from year to year.
So what are you waiting for? Just give us a call at 888-411-1329 or simply click on our quote form for free Medigap quotes. It’s an easy way to see just what we can do for you!
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