As the number of older Americans receiving Medicare increases, questions arise about access to care when living abroad.
As America’s seniors venture abroad, whether for recreation or for new living conditions, a key question to ask is what are the benefits of traveling with them. Social Security benefits follow Americans to other countries, but basic health insurance does not, so seniors may need to be prepared for other arrangements.
Health insurance is not a national system. Each policy is provided by competing private insurers whose rules and how much the local government pays vary by state.
As well as in all US states, Medicare covers residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands.
With the exception of a very small number of rare cases using inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico, Medicare does not cover hospital or medical expenses outside of the United States.
These rare cases of inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico relate to three possibilities:
- Clients in the United States live near a foreign hospital and need emergency or non-emergency treatment and the foreign hospital is closer or easier to get to from their home than the nearest US hospital. closer.
- If in the United States, when they have a medical emergency and the hospital in Mexico or Canada is closer than the nearest US hospital that can handle the emergency, Medicare may provide coverage, but this does not is not certain as it may depend on the insurer.
- If you are crossing Canada from Alaska to another state and a patient has an emergency and the Canadian hospital is closer than any hospital in the United States, there may be coverage from the insurer.
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans vary. Some Medicare Advantage coverages may include worldwide travel benefits, but only for emergencies and not for planned treatment.
Even for emergency care, patients may have to pay first and file a claim.
Some Medicare supplement plans may also provide emergency health care for overseas travel outside the United States. It is advisable to inquire before.
For Americans considering moving to other countries, the options are limited. If the retiree is moving to a country with strong national health insurance coverage, they might consider enrolling in a plan in the destination country to get coverage comparable to other residents, but not all countries not allow it.
Other alternatives are the readily available expatriate health insurance plans.
If returning to the US, Medicare enrollees who lived abroad must re-enter the US Medicare or Medicare Advantage system with all the usual Medicare rules.
If the American living abroad did not maintain their Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D payments while living or traveling in other countries, they could be subject to the same penalty rules as Americans at home. them.