Will Medicare Cover Me When I Travel Domestically?
By Linda Ballou NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate
Many retirees can’t wait to hit the open road as soon as they have been freed from their 9 to 5 job. This means new retirees are often traveling while they’re still new to Medicare.
Therefore, knowing how Medicare covers you while you travel is something you should learn sooner rather than later. Medicare covers its beneficiaries differently depending on where you travel and how you elect to receive your coverage.
Below, I share a conversation I had recently with Danielle K. Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits in which we discuss how you’re covered during domestic travel under each form of Medicare coverage. Next month we will follow-up with a corresponding discussion on foreign travel.
According to Medicare regulations, you’re traveling domestically if you are traveling to any of the states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
When traveling domestically with just Original Medicare the rules are simple. As long as you see a doctor who accepts Medicare, your Part A and Part B will cover you. Same goes if you have Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan.
Since Medigap plans don’t have doctor networks, you are able to see any doctor who accepts Medicare. If the doctor accepts Medicare, they are legally required to accept your Medigap plan too no matter the carrier you enrolled through.
However, traveling with a Medicare Advantage plan is a little different.
Traveling Within the U.S. with a Medicare Advantage Plan
Most Medicare Advantage plans have strict networks you must stay within in order to receive coverage. Usually, Medicare Advantage plans that have these kinds of networks are HMO plans. However, there is a type of Medicare Advantage plans that have slightly less strict network rules and these are PPO plans.
Medicare Advantage HMO plans generally don’t provide any non-emergency coverage outside of your network, meaning if you travel out of your plan’s service area, you will be responsible for any and all medical expenses. Some Medicare Advantage PPO plans have an out-of-network benefit where the beneficiary can receive partial coverage when going outside of the plan’s network.
You will also have to pay more out-of-network than you would have to pay in-network.
Thank you, Danielle, for this very important information. Danielle and her team help baby boomers navigate their Medicare insurance options. She is a member of the Forbes Finance Council and writes frequently about Medicare, retirement and personal finance.
Finally, I always recommend purchasing Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance to cover gaps in Medicare coverage whether traveling domestically, or internationally. Travel Guard is the only company that I know of that will let you purchase that coverage separately from their more comprehensive packages. It runs about $75.
Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site www.LostAngelAdventures.com. You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her favorite hikes and day trips on the coast of California.
Subscribe to her blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoYou.com to receive updates on her books, travel destinations and events.