This is a question that we get or should get daily because for anyone who is 65 or older it is an important issue. Medicare has a brochure that is available online, Medicare Outside the United States, which covers this topic. Here is some information taken from that brochure:
1.You’re in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency, and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury.
2.You’re traveling through Canada without unreasonable delay by the most direct route between Alaska and another state when a medical emergency occurs,and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your illness or injury. Medicare determines what qualifies as “without unreasonable delay” on a case-by-case basis.
3.You live in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat your medical condition, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.
How does this apply to cruise ships that leave or return to a USA port? Here is what they say:
• The doctor is allowed under certain laws to provide medical services on the cruise ship.
• The ship is in a U.S. port or no more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port when you get the services, regardless of whether it’s an emergency.
Medicare doesn’t cover health care services you get when the ship is more than 6 hours away from a U.S. port.
If you do meet these requirements than Medicare will pay for only those expenses that they normally would have paid for in the USA.
Being outside the USA means:
The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other thanthe 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. VirginIslands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Many clients have supplemental coverage to Medicare which may or may not cover them while they are outside the USA. Our best advice is for the traveler to find out what they are covered for and to look into the possibility of augmenting their coverage with a travel insurance plan that provides them with additional medical coverage. Don’t forget that your medical exposure is by far the largest financial exposure you will have while you are on your trip. It makes sense to become an informed consumer and to know your risk.