On Medicare and travelling abroad? Don’t get caught by surprise

May 7, 2021

Question: Sandy and Jim in Dearborn County: We’re excited to start traveling again on cruises and doing other international travel. We’re also both about to enroll in Medicare. Anything we need to know?

A: Given that most of us haven’t taken any big trips for more than a year now, we’re seeing a lot of pent-up wanderlust these days! And since you’re new to Medicare, it’s good you’re asking this question. (For the purposes of this answer, we’ll assume you’re enrolling in Original Medicare, which is Parts A & B only.) Because, generally speaking, if you’re traveling outside the U.S., original Medicare coverage will not cover you if you get sick. But there are a few caveats.

For instance, if you’re traveling around the U.S. but the closest hospital is in a foreign country (like Canada), your Medicare coverage will cover you. Same goes if you’re taking a cruise and the ship is on territorial waters that adjoin land areas of the U.S. (However, it will not cover you once you’re more than six hours away from an American port.)