Insurance Tips for Seniors Traveling Abroad

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beach-2179179__340.jpgVacation season is in full swing now, and many active seniors are planning trips. If your aging parents are planning to travel outside the United States, it’s important that they know whether they have adequate health insurance in the event of any emergency medical needs.

What about Medicare?

Most aging parents and other senior loved ones may assume that their Medicare coverage is all that they need; however, in most cases Medicare coverage applies only to services and supplies obtained within the 50 United States and other areas considered a part of the United States such as Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

There are some rare exceptions.  For example, if a medical emergency occurs while you are traveling through Canada to get from Alaska to the “lower 48” (or vice versa), and you are using the most direct route, Medicare Part A may cover your expenses at a Canadian hospital if the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital and the medical situation warrants immediate care.  Click here for more information on when Medicare may cover medical expenses outside the United States.

Beyond Medicare

If you have private health insurance, check with your carrier to confirm that coverage extends to foreign countries and to see whether there are any limitations placed upon expenses inccurred abroad.

If you do not have private health insurance, or if your insurance coverage is not adequate for possible travel needs, you might want to consider purchasing travel health insurance.  An insurance agent or travel agent can provide you with details about this short-term insurance, but here are some things you will need to consider:

Size of the co-payment.  Do you prefer a larger co-pay with smaller upfront costs, or a smaller co-pay with larger upfront costs?

Amount of any deductibles.  This also will affect how much your policy costs.

Medical evacuation. Do you need a medical evacuation benefit to transport you to a different country if needed?

Method of payment for services. Is the insurance centered on a reimbursement basis?  Many travel insurance policies are, so be aware that you might have to pay for services yourself initially and then get reimbursed later.

Most aging parents and other seniors do not experience medical emergencies while traveling; still, it’s good to weigh your options and make sure that your aging parents are informed about what their options are when making decisions about travel insurance coverage.

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