If you are a U.S. citizen living abroad, you may be pretty concerned about getting sick or having a condition requiring medical attention.
Needless to say, it can be difficult to find medical care outside of your native country.
If you travel or live abroad, a common question you probably have is “does Medicare cover U.S. Citizens living abroad?”
In this article, we answer the question in clear, plain English.
Does Medicare Cover U.S. Citizens Living Abroad?
The short answer is no. In most cases, Medicare will not cover the cost of your medical expenses if you live abroad. That being said, there may be some situations where you can get these costs covered. Below we’ll take a closer look at the details to see in which cases Medicare may pay for your medical expenses abroad.
When Can Medicare Cover Me Abroad?
Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not usually cover U.S. citizens living abroad. However, there is a chance that Original Medicare will provide coverage for your medical expenses if you are a U.S. citizen living abroad. We will discuss the types of Medicare below.
If you qualify for a premium-free Medicare Part A, then your coverage is free. Medicare Part B also provides coverage for U.S. citizens living abroad in some cases. However, it may not be worth keeping Medicare Part B when you reside outside of the U.S. and do not take frequent trips back to the country. Unlike Medicare Part A, premiums are not free in Medicare Part B.
Where am I Covered?
Original Medicare also does not provide coverage for your medical expenses outside of the U.S.A., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
So that means you will have to pay 100 percent of your medical expenses when you are out of the country. There are some cases when Medicare may provide coverage for your medical expenses outside of the U.S. territories.
However, it is only rare. Here are some situations where Medicare may provide coverage for your medical expenses outside of the U.S.:
- You are in the U.S. when a medical emergency occurs, you need immediate medical attention, and a foreign hospital is much nearer to you than a U.S. hospital.
- You are traveling through Canada by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs, and a Canadian hospital is much nearer to you than a U.S. hospital.
- You live in the U.S., but a foreign hospital is much nearer to where you reside than any U.S. hospital, regardless of whether an emergency exists.
- If you get medical care while on a cruise ship and the ship is in the U.S. territorial waters or within six hours of arrival or departure from the U.S. port.
More on Part A and Part B Coverage Abroad
If Medicare provides coverage for your medical expenses abroad, Medicare Part A will provide coverage for hospital care. Medicare Part B provides emergency and non-emergency ambulance and doctor services that you get immediately before and during your hospital stay in a foreign country.
However, Medicare Part B will not provide coverage for any said services if Medicare does not cover your hospital stay. They will also not provide ambulance and doctor’s services coverage after your covered hospital stay has ended.
Once covered, you will pay for the coinsurance that you normally pay.
Medicare Part C
However, some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) provide coverage for U.S. Citizens living abroad. Medicare Advantage plans cover everything Original Medicare covers and some additional benefits. However, coverage and out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the plan providers provide.
Medigap (Medicare Supplement) policies from C to G, M, and N cover 80% of emergency care costs abroad.
Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.
Additional Info on Medicare Coverage
This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”
Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare Cover Botox For Headaches?