an LA Times columnist weighs in on this popular subject
That was "more on travel insurance", but not really that good of an article.
Many travelers are on Medicare, however they didn't say that if you have a Supplement policy, you're often going to be reimbursed for any health emergency you have outside the U.S. Most travelers do carry more coverage than the basic Medicare policy. You'd need to check with your Supplement provider to see how they cover you outside the country.
David, you would be amazed how many Americans don't understand that and think "I can just submit my claim to Medicare when i get home" Uh, NO! And not all supplments cover international travel. My mother's does because she knew she wanted to keep traveling when she purchased it. But it costs more that way so....
I used to work in Senior Care and about once a year we had someone hysterical because they got sick in Mexico or wherever and Medicare would not pay!
And if you have Medicare Advantage instead of Original Medicare plus supplement, you may have overseas coverage (depending on your contract) but it may most likely be pay-first-and-file-for-reimbursement. Read your contract!!
I agree with other posters. I worked in employee benefits for over 30 years. Medicare does not cover expenses outside of the US, and is one very sad case the supplement did not cover anything that Medicare did not so all of this person's claims were on their dime. Check before you go!!
However, of you have a non-Medicare plan check with your medical insurance carrier before you go. If you are sick abroad most use the prudent person test regarding care and will cover urgent and emergency care. Also if you are in an accident, most carriers will pay to get you to the nearest facility that can treat you. Though not necessarily in the U.S. But the tale I will give you is the one of our employees was in south America with his family and his one year old daughter got an infection in the lining of her heart. The hospital she was in said they were not able to treat her if her condition worsened. The family was prepared to pay to have her transported to Florida for treatment. Luckily, because I knew the policy, I was able to get the insurance carrier in touch with the hospital in South America it was determined that the daughter needed to come home and the insurance company paid for a medical evacuation and brought her home.
So my advice is call your insurance company to find out what your coverage is before you go. Some even have travel brochures on how to access care. Take your insurance card and any toll free or direct number for outside the county calls with you, and most importantly make sure that your traveling companions know where to call if help is needed. It also helps if you have someone at home who is familiar with the numbers to call and can act as an advocate in the same time zone. If help is needed contact your insurance company as soon as possible, they have people whose job it is to take care of these situations.
Usually none of this is ever necessary but, what was it that my dad used to say, better to be safe than sorry. I just hate it when he is right :-)
I've actually had to use travel insurance before as well. For the money, it really is worth the peace of mind and the actual coverage. As have been said before, travel insurance covers much more than just medical expense reimbursement and even IF your regular health insurance is able to reimburse you for medical expenses incurred abroad (sometimes they only reimburse you for emergency/"life-and-death" expenses only), there'll be lots of hoops to jump through.
Med evac isn't really all that pricey and can literally be a lifesaver. IMHO of course.
Travel insurance is likely to be secondary to normal health insurance, so I assume you'd be expected to go through the Medicare supplement reimbursement process before the travel insurer will look at the claim.