Does Medicare Cover International Travel?

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Original Medicare does not cover international travel in most cases. Some Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap) cover up to 80% of emergency care costs during international travel.

In most cases, Medicare does not cover international travel. Some Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, however, can work alongside your Medicare coverage in the U.S. and cover up to 80% of your foreign travel emergency health care costs.

When Does Medicare Pay for International Travel? 

Medicare generally doesn't cover medical costs incurred while traveling internationally, but there are several uncommon exceptions: 

  • You reside in the United States but a foreign hospital capable of treating your condition is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. facility.
  • You experience a medical emergency while located in the United States and a foreign hospital that can treat your condition is closer than the nearest U.S. facility.
  • You experience a medical emergency while traveling by direct route through Canada between Alaska and another U.S. state and a Canadian hospital capable of handling your care is closer than the nearest U.S. facility. 

In these cases, Medicare may cover the cost of a doctor’s care, ambulance transport, dialysis or a medically necessary inpatient hospital stay. Reimbursement is limited to services covered by Original Medicare Parts A and B.

Medicare Part D doesn’t cover prescription drugs purchased outside the United States. 

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover International Travel? 

Because Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans are administered by private insurers, their terms vary widely. MA plans may offer additional coverage for services that aren’t traditionally reimbursed through basic Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers. If Original Medicare covers your international travel to seek health care, a Medicare Advantage plan would provide at least the same level of coverage.

Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer international travel benefits, so be sure to check with your carrier to find out if this option is available with your plan — and if it must be purchased at an extra cost. 

Does Medicare Cover Out of Country Care? 

In addition to the United States, Medicare may be used in any U.S. territory. This includes: 

  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico
  • American Samoa
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The Northern Mariana Islands 

Medicare Part B may also be used to cover medical services received on a ship if the vessel is located within the territorial waters adjoining land areas of the United States. However, if the ship would have to travel more than six hours to reach a U.S. port, Medicare won’t pay for onboard medical services. 

Do Medigap Plans Cover International Travel? 

Medigap plans are supplemental insurance policies designed to cover the out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare, such as copays, coinsurance and deductibles. These plans, which are sold through private insurers, may also provide coverage for medical services or supplies received while traveling outside of the United States if they're not reimbursable through Medicare. 

Medigap Plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M or N cover medically necessary services for individuals who seek emergency treatment for an accident or illness during the first 60 days of a trip. Before coverage begins, beneficiaries must meet a $250 annual deductible, after which they’ll be responsible for 80% of billed charges. The program has a lifetime cap of $50,000 for international travel emergency coverage. 

What Other Health Care Options Do Seniors Have When Traveling Internationally? 

Because some countries require travelers to maintain health insurance when visiting, particularly if they're staying long term, it’s important for seniors to find viable international health care coverage before traveling. Several private options are available to supplement Medicare coverage: 

  • Travel medical insurance: Sold by private insurance companies, travel medical insurance policies offer short-term health care coverage to travelers. These benefits are designed to cover individuals if they suffer illnesses or injuries while traveling. Some policies may also cover dental and vision services.

  • International health insurance: International health insurance policies are intended for individuals who plan to stay abroad for a year or more. It provides coverage for both routine and emergency medical services, including prescriptions, diagnostic imaging and urgent care.

  • Accident insurance: Although accident insurance is designed to cover policyholders if they suffer an injury while traveling, some plans may also provide coverage for care in the event of a serious illness. This type of insurance is a good choice for travelers who plan to participate in high-risk activities such as rock climbing or skydiving.

  • Medical evacuation insurance: Medical evacuation insurance provides travelers with coverage for medical evacuations from the country they're staying in. It’s a good choice for cruise ship passengers or travelers heading to remote regions or developing countries where appropriate medical care may not be readily available.

How Much Does Travel Health Insurance Cost? 

The cost of travel health insurance depends on several factors: 

  • The insurance carrier
  • The amount of coverage
  • The deductible
  • The trip duration
  • The age and gender of the traveler 

Insurance providers can provide an accurate quote prior to purchasing a policy so you can compare comparable plans. 

What Should You Look for Before Purchasing a Travel Health Plan?

A travel health insurance plan is meant to protect your health and your finances, so it's important to research a plan before making a purchase. There are several things you should look for when choosing a travel health insurance plan:

  • Emergency care: The plan you purchase should let you seek urgent care in the event of a medical emergency. It should cover services such as ambulance transport, ER visits and medically necessary inpatient hospital stays.

  • Geographical coverage: Make sure the plan you choose covers the region or country you're traveling to. If a single plan doesn't cover all the countries on your itinerary, you may need to purchase multiple policies.

  • Pre-existing conditions: Your travel health insurance plan should cover any treatment you may need for pre-existing conditions.

Direct payment to providers: Medical care can be expensive, and you may not have the means to pay out-of-pocket for treatment so make sure your plan offers direct payment to hospitals and other providers.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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