Medicare Coverage Outside the U.S.

Posted:August 10, 2015

Many of our retirees have plans to travel now that vacation season is in full swing. For retirees planning to travel outside of the U.S., it is important to make note that Medicare will generally not cover foreign health care costs. The 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Island are considered part of the U.S.

There are rare cases in which Medicare may pay for inpatient hospital, doctor, or ambulance services in a foreign country:

  • When you’re in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital
  • If you live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital
  • If you’re traveling through Canada by the most direct route between Canada and another state when a medical emergency occurs and the closest hospital is in Canada

Medicare Part B may cover medically necessary health care services you receive onboard a ship if the ship is located less than 6 hours away from a U.S. port at the time of the emergency.  Medicare Part D plans cannot be used outside of the U.S. and Medicare will not cover dialysis outside of the U.S. unless it is an emergency in which you receive it at a hospital.

Keep in mind that if you have a Medicare Supplement policy it may offer additional coverage for care or supplies outside of the U.S.  Medigap plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M, and N pay 80% of billed charges for medically necessary emergency care outside of the U.S. after you meet a $250 deductible each year. Foreign travel emergency coverage with Medicare Supplement policies have a lifetime limit of $50,000 and will cover expenses if the emergency begins during the first 60 days of your trip.


To learn more about Medicare outside the U.S., please visit