Does Medicare Cover You While Traveling in Canada?

One of the best things about retirement is having the opportunity to travel more. Planning trips is exciting when you dream about what to see, things to eat, and fun adventures you’ll experience. But part of good planning is thinking about what to do in emergencies, too. What happens if you get sick or injured while you’re away? Does your Medicare insurance cover you? Do you and your travel partner need extra health care insurance? Even for a trip across the northern border into Canada, you might need more than your Medicare coverage. Here’s a look at whether Medicare covers you in Canada and elsewhere. 

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Mar 28, 2021

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Do your Medicare benefits cover you while traveling in Canada?

With a few exceptions, Medicare doesn’t cover beneficiaries while they are traveling outside the United States. Medicare covers you while you are in any of the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

However, Medicare might cover certain types of health care in Canada if you are in route directly and without unreasonable delay from Alaska to another U.S. state and you have a medical emergency. To be eligible, the hospital in Canada must be closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that is equipped to handle your emergency. 

If this happens and you qualify for emergency help in Canada, Medicare only pays for services that are covered by Medicare. 

If you are planning to travel to Canada or other countries outside the U.S., you have other options for health care coverage. You can sign up for a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, plan. 

How do Medicare Supplement plans help cover travel outside the U.S.?

Some supplemental insurance plans provide additional coverage for medical services and supplies that you might need while traveling outside the country. You can purchase one of Medigap’s plans – D, G, M, and N, which provide medical emergency care during foreign travel. 
If you have one of the above-listed plans, it includes the following:

• Foreign travel emergency care when it begins during the initial 60 days of the trip abroad and only if it isn’t otherwise covered by Medicare.
• Payment for 80 percent of the charges billed for certain emergency care that is medically necessary when you are outside the country, and only after you have met the plan’s deductible for the year. 

(Keep in mind, Plan C and Plan F include foreign travel coverage, but those plans are no longer sold to new Medicare enrollees. If you already purchased a Plan C or Plan F before January 1, 2020, you can continue your coverage as long as your plan is not discontinued.) 

With Medigap policies, your coverage for foreign travel emergencies has a lifetime limit of $50,000.00. 

If you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, your plan may offer additional benefits beyond the Part A and Part B coverage that is included in MA plans. This may include health care coverage while you are abroad. You can’t get a Medicare Supplement plan if you have Part C benefits. Read your Part C plan carefully to ensure you have coverage for travel in Canada, or call your provider and ask for details of your coverage before traveling.

Having a Medicare Supplement policy is vital for people who plan to travel outside the United States, even in neighboring Canada. If you have a plan already and aren’t sure if you have coverage outside the country, make sure you read your policy carefully or call a licensed representative of your plan’s provider before you set off on your trip. 

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