Turning 65 is a big milestone for many people. For some, it means that they can retire and spend their days relaxing at home. For others, it means that the doors are finally open to adventure and travel, at home and abroad.
At 65, when you are eligible for Medicare insurance coverage, it is important to know whether you will have health care coverage no matter where you are. If traveling outside the United States is something you plan on doing a lot of, your Original Medicare benefits may not cover your health care needs. You may need a supplemental insurance plan that extends its coverage outside the country. Here are the details about how to get what you need.
Medicare Supplement Plan M Coverage of Foreign Travel
If you have a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, which is also called a Medigap plan, it can help you pay for out-of-pocket costs that may not be covered by your Original Medicare insurance (Parts A and B), including your coinsurances and deductibles.
Standard supplement plans C, D, F, G, M, and N also provide foreign travel emergency health care with the following stipulations:
• Your Original Medicare insurance does not cover your necessary health care and your emergency care begins within the first 60 days of your travel abroad.
• Your Medigap Plan M pays for 80 percent of the charges you are billed for if the care is medically necessary emergency health care, and if you have met a $250.00 deductible for that current year.
With Medicare coverage through a Medicare Supplement plan such as Plan M, there is a lifetime limit of $50,000.00 for foreign travel emergency health care coverage.
How To Sign Up for a Medicare Supplement Plan
Coverage through Medicare Supplement plans has been available since 2010 thanks to the Medicare Modernization Act. There are several different plans you can purchase, lettered A through N, from private insurance providers. The plans that are available depend on where you live and what provider you purchase from. Make sure to check all your area’s options before making your decision.
Once you decide on which policy suits your needs, it is best to buy your Medigap policy during your six-month open enrollment period which begins the month you turn 65, and at which time you are also enrolled in Original Medicare. During this initial enrollment period, you can purchase the Medicare Supplement policy without prejudice for pre-existing health conditions and at the provider’s set price.
If you choose to wait until after your initial period of enrollment, you may end up paying more and you have no guarantee of being accepted if you have pre-existing health conditions.
Travel Health Insurance Coverage Cost Without Medicare Benefits
If you do not have health care coverage outside the U.S. through a Medicare Supplement plan, you may need to purchase it elsewhere. For travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuations, the national average price for short, single trip coverage runs between $40.00 and $80.00 per trip. The final price you pay depends on your age, the length of the trip, and the amount of coverage you wish to have.
There are other travel insurance policies that include general coverage, accidental death and dismemberment, lost or delayed baggage, flight delays, as well as assistance on a 24/7 basis. These policies generally charge between 4 and 10 percent of the total cost of your trip.
If you plan to travel extensively during your retirement years, it may be worth the money to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, like Plan M, for peace of mind that you have health care insurance coverage when you are outside the United States.