Over 65 and Traveling Abroad? Make Sure Your Healthcare Goes With YouSubmitted by Miller Financial Group | Red Oak Iowa Financial Advisor on January 6th, 2020
Over 65 and Traveling Abroad? Make Sure Your Healthcare Goes With You!
By: Daniel S. Miller, CFP®
Plan To Have Medicare Coverage For Your Winter Travel
If you are a senior, you should plan to protect your health no matter where you might venture. If you currently utilize traditional Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage plan, you shouldn't have any problems getting the care you need basically anywhere in the U.S. It's when you decide to travel outside the U.S. that you are more likely to encounter issues with your Medicare coverage. As a word of caution, you may be well-served to verify the scope of your insurance coverage anytime you decide to travel away from your home environment. That suggestion is applicable no matter what kind of healthcare insurance coverage you carry. This also goes for those folks under age 65 as well.
What to Know About Medicare Coverage Abroad
Once you are outside the U.S., you will most likely find that you are void of any type of coverage related to Medicare. The only two exceptions to this rule would include the following two circumstances: First, if something happened to you close to a U.S. border, there are circumstances under which Medicare may cover emergency care costs in a foreign country. As an example, let's say you are traveling south of San Diego, California right near the border of Mexico. If you were hit with a medical emergency and the powers to be determined that taking you across the border for treatment was necessary to avoid putting your life at risk, Medicare might cover the emergency care costs. Second, you are afforded some level of coverage if you are on a boat or ship in U.S. territorial waters and a medical emergency befalls you. As long as you are within six hours of a U.S. port, you should be entitled to coverage for the costs related to that medical emergency. In both of these cases, Medicare will push to have you moved back into the U.S. for further treatment once your condition has stabilized.
About Medigap Coverage Abroad
Many seniors carry a product called Medigap, aka Medical Supplement which is intended to serve as a supplemental form of insurance that helps policyholders cover the copays and co-insurance found in traditional Medicare Parts A and B. Interestingly, some Medigap policies (Plans C, D, F, G, M and N) do offer coverage abroad. Under the terms of the applicable Medigap policies, coverage abroad is available with a $250 deductible and a 20% co-insurance obligation. It's the $50,000 lifetime cap that could potentially cause an issue. If someone were to encounter a serious medical condition far from home without the ability to eventually relocate back to the U.S. for additional care, there's a real possibility the $50,000 could be gobbled up within that one emergency. At that point the coverage abroad would be nonexistent for the duration of the Medigap coverage. For this very reason, it is suggested people use this benefit judiciously.
Looking for an Alternative?
Based on the understanding that your Medicare/Medicare Advantage may be of little to no benefit to you while you are abroad, it doesn't release you from your responsibility to have a plan in place in case you encounter a medical emergency while traveling. For that reason, you may want to consider purchasing a travel medical insurance policy. Depending on your age and current health status, you may be able to find a policy that's both affordable and quite comprehensive. You should speak with a qualified independent health insurance agent to find out which plan is right for you.
Regardless of whether you plan to travel or not, you should make it a habit to check on your healthcare insurance coverage on a regular basis. It's up to you to make sure everything you might need is in place when the time comes that you may have to utilize the coverage.
*Material presented is not intended as tax advice. For specific tax advice, please contact your own qualified tax professional.
Daniel S. Miller, CFP® is President of Miller Financial Group, Inc. with offices located in Bellevue, NE and Red Oak, IA. Dan and his team serve clients throughout the country as they prepare for the next stages of their financial lives. Dan is a published author of the book “Retirement Built to Last: Planning for When the Paychecks Stop” and has had articles published in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Advisors IQ, Successful Farming and The Hill. He is also a dedicated husband, father, and advocate for the financial planning process and financial education.
Dan Miller, David Eads, Kaleb Robuck, and Marcus Taylor are investment adviser representatives of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp. Member FINRA/SIPIC. A Registered Investment Advisor located at 6020 E Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Miller Financial Group is not affiliated with USA Financial Services.