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Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Foreign Travel?

Updated: June 24, 2024
By: Jonathan Trout
Jonathan Trout
Content Manager
Jonathan is a former product and content manager for Retirement Living. His background spans sales/marketing, finance, and telecommunications. Jonathan’s expertise in consumer wellness and research-backed data stories helped educate seniors on financial planning, retirement, and community resources. Jonathan graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Environmental Sociology.
Content Manager
Edited by: Lauren Hamer
Lauren Hamer
Sr. Editor
Bringing more than a decade of editorial experience to Retirement Living, Lauren focuses on reporting senior-related issues, including retirement planning, finance, consumer protection, and health and wellness. Lauren has edited consumer content for Credible, Angi, Slickdeals, Jobs for the Future, and more.
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We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact or 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1 (877) 486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get information on all of your options.

Some Medicare supplement plans cover foreign travel medical expenses and are available from private insurance companies. When inside the United States, you can use this insurance in conjunction with Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Foreign travel emergency coverage has a lifetime coverage limit of $50,000.

A Closer Look at Medicare Supplement Plans for Foreign Travel

Six Medicare supplement plans offer foreign travel emergency coverage when you travel outside the United States: Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N. (They stopped selling Plans E, H, I, and J, but if you bought one before June 1, 2010, you can keep it.)

These plans cover up to 80% of the medical expenses you encounter while traveling abroad after you meet a $250 annual deductible. This insurance also covers foreign travel emergency care during the first 60 days of travel and Medicare does not pay the cost.

travel insurance

Source: Getty

Medicare supplement plan F is a high-deductible option for foreign travel, and you must pay Medicare-covered costs up to $2,490 before your supplemental plan pays anything. Medicare supplement plan N provides full Part B coinsurance coverage, except copayments up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 copayments for emergency room visits which lead to inpatient admissions.

Insurance companies decide which Medicare supplement policies to accept while complying with state and federal regulations. They must provide Medicare supplement plans C and F if they offer at least one other Medicare supplement plan. It’s a good idea to know what each Medicare supplement plan covers. Medicare supplement plans in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin differ from those available in other states:

  • Massachusetts: You can obtain foreign travel emergency coverage if you purchase the state’s Supplement 1 plan.

  • Minnesota: The Extended Basic plan offers up to 80% of medical coverage if you are in a foreign country and 80% of international emergency care.

  • Wisconsin: The core Medicare supplement plan does not include foreign travel medical care. However, some insurance companies offer foreign travel emergency coverage to Wisconsin residents as a rider, which is a provision amending a policy’s terms. While not all insurance companies will agree to add a rider for medical expenses incurred abroad, Wisconsin residents should be able to find an insurer who can provide the rider.

If you purchased Medicare supplement plans E, H, I, or J before June 1, 2010, you already have foreign travel medical emergency benefits. Those policies are no longer an option for new subscribers.

Be sure to see our tips for buying Medicare supplement insurance before you speak with an insurance agent. The information in this guide will let you know what questions to ask before you buy coverage.

How to Apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance with Foreign Travel Coverage

When you complete an application for Medicare supplement insurance with foreign travel coverage, fill out the form carefully and thoroughly. If an insurance agent fills out an application on your behalf, ensure all the information is correct before you sign the document.

Medicare supplement plans are available with no medical underwriting during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment begins automatically on the month you turn 65 or older. You have a guaranteed issue right to a Medicare supplement policy that covers all your pre-existing health conditions, and insurance companies can’t charge you a higher premium due to your past or current health issues. Simply put, if you purchase a Medicare supplement policy during your open enrollment period, you can’t be denied a policy or charged a higher premium due to your medical condition.

Medicare supplement plans with foreign travel coverage generally take effect the first day of the month after you apply, but the insurance company can activate the plan on a date that coincides with the day you leave the country. If your insurance company is unwilling to begin your Medicare supplement plan on a specific date, contact your State Insurance Department for assistance.

If you decide to retire in a foreign country, you will not be eligible for Medicare supplement insurance. You will have to buy insurance from an agent or exchange in that country.

Couple traveling

Source: Getty

Additional Insurance for Foreign Travel

If you are traveling abroad for a longer period, consider purchasing medical insurance to help fill any gaps left by your Medicare supplement policy. Carrying additional coverage can further protect you financially if you have chronic medical conditions that could require multiple doctor visits or hospitalization.

  • Primary travel medical insurance: Coverage pays foreign travel medical claims up to your policy limit, allowing you to use the primary travel medical insurance for a claim amount that would exceed your Medicare supplement plan limit. You can buy primary travel medical insurance when you purchase a Medicare supplement plan.

  • Secondary travel medical insurance: Guarantees your foreign travel medical bills are paid after your Medicare supplement plan, or any other foreign travel coverage you have, pays its share. You can purchase this alongside your a Medicare supplement plan.

The Bottom Line on Medicare Supplement Plans and Foreign Travel

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends talking to a Medicare supplement insurance agent before you book a trip outside the United States. Make this conversation a part of your travel planning so you can receive information about all of your Medicare supplement plan options and be prepared should you need medical care on your trip.