Can you use Medicare out of State? Crossing State Lines with Confidence

Can you use Medicare out of state?

If you are outside the United States, Medicare does not cover your healthcare as much.

Usually, Original Medicare will not pay for health services you get while traveling abroad, except in specific emergencies.

Here are some situations where Medicare might help:

  1. If you are in Canada between Alaska and another state and the closest hospital is in Canada, Medicare might cover emergency services.
  2. If a foreign hospital near your home is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital, Medicare might cover some non-emergency inpatient services.
  3. On a cruise ship, Medicare can pay for medical care if you get it while the ship is in a U.S. port (or within six hours of arriving or leaving).

However, Medicare Part D drug plans will not cover medicines you buy outside the U.S.

If you need medicine from an international pharmacy, you will probably have to pay the full cost yourself.

For Medicare Advantage plans, they must cover at least what Original Medicare covers.

So, your plan will probably help with international travel in the situations mentioned earlier.

Some plans might even provide extra benefits for emergency and urgent care during foreign travel.

Remember, this coverage is usually for unexpected situations, not routine healthcare visits abroad.

If you stay outside the U.S. for more than six months, you might lose your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to your original Medicare.

The coverage and rules of Medicare Advantage plans differ, so check with your plan provider before traveling abroad.

They can tell you if your plan has emergency travel benefits and how claims or reimbursement work.

Read this guide to learn how extensively Medicare pays for hospice.


Can I use Medicare anywhere in the US?

Yes, you have the flexibility to use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare throughout the United States.

If you are in Original Medicare, which covers about 80% of your healthcare costs, you can also explore and purchase supplemental coverage to assist without out-of-pocket expenses, such as the 20% coinsurance.

This gives you more options and helps manage your overall healthcare expenses.

Read this comprehensive guide to understand how to be eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.

Can you receive Medicare benefits if you live outside the US?

Medicare rarely covers health services in other countries.

If you leave the United States:

You can still get Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) when you come back, and you won’t have to pay a monthly premium from your Social Security payment for it.

You can choose to keep paying for Part B or stop it while you’re away.

It might not make sense to pay for Part B if you will be outside the U.S. for a long time because Medicare benefits only work in the United States.

But when you come back and decide to enroll in Part B, your premium will be 10% higher for each 12 months you could have had it but did not.

If you want to cancel your Part B coverage while you’re away, tell the Social Security Administration. Your Part B benefits and payments will continue for one more month after you notify them.

When you return to the U.S., you must sign up for Part B again, but you can only do it from January to March each year. Your benefits won’t start until July, and you might have to pay an extra fee.

For Part D, it is a bit different. You can’t keep paying premiums when you’re outside the country, and you can’t have Part D once you move away.

Contact your Part D plan to coordinate stopping your coverage when you move. If you come back to the U.S., you can get Part D again and enroll in a plan during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

This period starts the month before you move back, the month you move back, and up to 2 months after the move.

What is the best Medicare plan that covers everything?

If you want a comprehensive plan, you might like the ones from Humana. They offer plans for older adults all over the country.

These plans have monthly premiums, and you might not have to pay anything for visits to the doctor or specialists.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a popular health insurance choice for people aged 65 and older in the U.S.

But with 8,676 different Medicare Advantage plans for 2024, finding the right one can be confusing.

To see which plans you can get, you need to share your ZIP code and some personal information.

Even then, there are about 287 plans on average in each county.

To make things easier, you can ask for help from an independent health insurance agent.

Or, you can focus on the health insurance companies that usually offer the best Medicare Advantage plans.

This is based on things like the size of their network of healthcare providers and the extra benefits they provide.

Forbes Health figured out the best Medicare Advantage provides by looking at factors like how many states they cover, the benefits they offer, rankings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), their financial health according to A.M. Best, customer feedback from J.D. Power, and more. 

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