Retirement means many things to different people, but traveling is often at the top of the list. Many people travel to experience new cultures and try different cuisine, while others travel to relax and enjoy family, beaches, mountains, festivals and more. Unfortunately, unforeseen medical events can occur while away from home. Due to the various different laws and regulations laid out by countries outside of the United States regarding healthcare and insurance, some people on Medicare hesitate to take trips abroad because they are worried that they may not be able to pay for medical expenses and emergencies that may come up while traveling.
Does Medicare Cover You in Puerto Rico?
Individuals qualified to receive Medicare will be happy to know that Medicare does provide coverage when visiting Puerto Rico. This is because, while Puerto Rico is not considered a state of the United States, it is considered a territory, and therefore, Medicare coverage is still in effect. Before traveling anywhere outside of the US, it would be a good idea to research various healthcare laws in the areas where you’ll be traveling to ensure that you understand your rights to accessible care.
Does Medicare Cover Emergency Transportation Back Home?
Medicare recipients should note that certain circumstances may make it difficult to obtain coverage for certain expenses that may not be an issue while receiving care back in the US. Specifically, the matter of medical transport back to the United States in the event of a medical emergency can be a complex problem. Medicare does provide coverage under Part B for emergency medical transportation, but as a rule, the simplest, most logical form of transportation must be taken in order to qualify for coverage. This means that if ground transportation to a qualified medical facility is possible, opting for air travel may result in out-of-pocket expenses.
It’s also worth noting that Medicare does not pay for memberships for services like Life Flight. These services collect membership fees and negotiate contracts with transportation partners for emergency medical transport. While Medicare may cover the cost of emergency transportation, even by air, it does not cover the cost of fees associated with membership clubs that provide access to transport services.
Consider Additional Travel Insurance
Although Medicare benefits do apply in Puerto Rico and other United States territories, it may also be beneficial to purchase travel insurance when taking a trip. Travel insurance can help to cover costs for medical care that Medicare does not cover, including specialty care, long-term care, direct emergency medical transport and more. Most policies offered by insurers also give options for coverage of lost or stolen property and even coverage for representation if you find yourself involved in a legal matter while abroad. To learn more about your options, you will need to speak with a representative from your preferred insurance provider directly.