Although Medicare and Medicaid will pay for a fairly extensive number of services for those who are in the United States, these programs will not typically pay for medical services that are received outside of the U.S. and it territories – other than in extremely rare circumstances.
The good news is that those who live outside of the United States, but who are qualified for Medicare benefits, are allowed to enroll in this program. If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare benefits, however, you will need to determine whether it is better to enroll from your location abroad or wait until you return to the United States in order to complete your enrollment procedure.
Enrolling in Medicare While You Are Outside of the United States
If you choose to enroll in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) while you are outside of the United States, then you will need to contact the nearest American consulate or embassy in the country in which you currently live. This is because you will not be able to enroll in Medicare via the online website from outside of the U.S.
If you are not considered to be “fully insured,” (i.e., you do not have the necessary 40 work credits), then you will not be able to enroll in Medicare from outside of the U.S. However, for those who are fully insured, this is the procedure to follow. Likewise, for those who are fully insured, you are eligible to receive Medicare Part A premium-free.
Medicare Part B is also available. This part of Medicare does require the payment of a monthly premium. In 2014, the amount of this premium is $104.90 for most individuals. For some, however, who are considered to have higher incomes, the monthly premium amount for Medicare Part B may be higher.
Ways to Cover Yourself If You’re Traveling Outside of the U.S.
For those who may frequently travel outside of the U.S. and are concerned about obtaining Medicare related services, there are some ways that you may be able to still get certain coverages for health care.
First, there are some Medicare Supplement Insurance plans that cover emergency and / or urgently needed treatment abroad. These “Medigap” plans – those that are labeled Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, Plan G, Plan M, and Plan N – offer what is referred to as foreign travel emergency services and some other similar benefits.
Here, the insured in the plan will be required to pay a deductible amount, as well as a certain percentage of the cost of the medical services that are used – up to a lifetime maximum amount. (This amount is typically in the range of $50,000).
It is important to read over your coverage very carefully in order to fully understand exactly what your plan will – and will not – cover. For example, in most cases, the plans will cover foreign travel emergency care if it begins during the first 60 days of your trip – and only if Medicare does not otherwise cover the care. Therefore, be sure that you are mindful of all of the limitations of the plans’ coverages – and that you also have an alternative for care and for financial coverage just in case.
There are other alternatives, as well, for covering foreign travel emergency medical case such as purchasing a travel insurance policy that covers medical emergencies when you are planning a trip abroad.
Covering Yourself If You Live Outside of the United States
For those who are U.S. citizens and who live outside of the U.S., obtaining medical treatment in most other countries is usually less expensive than it is to purchase outright in the United States. With that in mind, in certain cases, paying for care out of pocket may not be all bad.
Likewise, depending on where you are located, there is a chance that you could be taken care of through the national health care program of the country in which you are currently living. However, purchasing health insurance on the open market could be costly.
For Additional Information
For additional information on Medicare and Medicaid for those who live outside of the United States, it is important to contact the Social Security Administration directly via mail, fax, or phone. You will need to provide the Administration with your full name, address, phone number, and your Social Security number in order to identify yourself. This way, the representative can provide you with the most accurate information regarding your specific benefits and eligibility.
MedicareWallet.com is an unbiased, online resource for individuals turning 65 or already on Medicare. Our utmost goal is to provide information in a way that is user-focused, informative and ethical. With a combined 40 years of experience in the Medicare market, we can answer any questions about Medicare and Medigap insurance. Feel free to reach out to us at 800.376.0824 or by email at[email protected].