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US Medicare in Switzerland

My wife and I are in our 70's. We are going to Switzerland this spring; what if we need medical attention? I heard that they no longer honor US Medicare, does anyone know if that's true? Do we need to purchase trip insurance or are there any cost effective short term medical insurance policies that will cover us?

Posted by
332 posts

I would have thought you would need trip insurance every time you leave your country. What would happen if you needed medical repatriation? That would cost £200k plus.

Posted by
2084 posts

You need to check with Medicare to see if any emergency care is covered by your particular policy. Ours covers 50k for emergency care over our lifetime. You still need to get travel insurance though. Check out “insuremytrip.com” for information on coverage. I’d cover existing conditions and evacuation insurance as well.

Posted by
20299 posts

I would be surprised if it was ever covered, since Medicare specifically states it is for medical services provided in the USA. Medevac plans are pretty cheap, even in your 70's. I just paid $37 for a group plan for a 10 day European trip and, sad to say, I'm in your category. Individual plan probably about double that.

Posted by
14098 posts

@Sam, some Medicare "Advantage" plans have international coverage. My Medicare Supplemental policy has international coverage which is why I chose what I did.

@TheSkipper, the insuremytrip website will help you compare policies based on the parameters you set. I always get a lot of medevac coverage as that is the critical part to me. Others want other kinds of coverage as well to cover various parts of their trips.

Posted by
8454 posts

I noticed that Allianz has an annual, medical only policy (20,000 coverage for $60). It also includes 100,000 in Emergency transport. Just bare bones, but that may be what you are looking for.

Medicare A and B don’t cover outside the US, but many supplemental Medicare policies do as well as some Medicare Advantage plans. My first step would be to check what your supplemental coverage that you already had in place covers or doesn’t cover .

Posted by
2814 posts

Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the US. Some Medicare Advantage and supplement plans provide out of US coverage. You need to look at your policy. I have Supplemental Part F through AARP that provides $50,000 lifetime medical coverage.

You should look at travel insurance that, at the bare minimum, covers evacuation. Most travel insurance policies will cover medical, evacuation, trip cancellation and trip interruption. The references to insuremytrip will give you a starting point. We each have difference needs so you have to decide what works best for you. Read the policy fine print thoroughly.

This link should take you to the forum’s travel insurance search where you will find lots of posts debating about travel insurance. https://search.ricksteves.com/?button=&date_range=1y&filter=Travel+Forum&query=Trip+insurance&utf8=%E2%9C%93

Posted by
15378 posts

As was stated, Medicare itself, the government portion, does not cover you outside the USA. However, if you have a supplemental policy or an Advantage plan you might have some coverage.

Regarding evacuation insurance......read the policy carefully. Some only cover evacuation to the nearest hospital and not to a hospital of your choice. When I say nearest, nearest to where you are traveling internationally and not home.

Posted by
913 posts

Even with a supplemental medicare policy you are going to need some additional trip insurance of some kind. I would bet that your Supplemental Medicare insurance policy probably covers up to $50,000 for medical costs that you incur internationally and this will be a lifetime amount. You do need some type of travel insurance. Both of the websites previously listed are good places to start.

Posted by
346 posts

After a friend fractured her femur in Italy a few years ago, we got a five year medical evacuation plan from Medjet. They will evacuate you to a hospital of YOUR choice, not just the nearest acceptable facility. And you can use it any time you're more than 150 miles from home.

Since we're on Medicare, we use tripinsurancestore.com to advise us on medical insurance. Very helpful people.

Posted by
991 posts

Please make sure you are well insured when you come to our country and in particular make sure you are covered for things like air evacuation to hospital etc... because it can very quickly run into $100ks.

The father of a friend's wife was visiting from Japan when he happened to have heart attack in the mountains. A doctor had to be air lifted in and the old man had to air lifted out to hospital. The bill came to almost $200k, lucky for him his Swiss son-in-law had made sure he was well covered.