What to know about traveling with Medicare

two senior women checking their boarding passes before entering the train

Retirement can mean newfound freedom, especially if you like to travel. If you’re dreaming of winters in Florida or extended trips to Europe, you’ll want to choose a Medicare plan that keeps you covered while you’re away from home. 

In fact, travel coverage may be just as important as cost when choosing a plan. “Look at the cost, but also look at what you’re getting for that premium,” says Terry Meshanko, a Licensed Medicare Advisor with Highmark. “Having access to care, when you need it and where you need it, provides a lot of assurance for travelers.”

Below, read more about how to choose a travel-friendly Medicare plan — and what to know when planning a trip:

1. Consider all travel possibilities before Medicare enrollment.

Picture your retirement years. Will you spend the winter months somewhere warm? Are your kids living in another state or country? Do you want to see the world? 

“You want to look at all aspects of travel and figure out what’s important to you,” Meshanko says. If you’re an international jetsetter, many Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage outside the U.S. You’ll want to consider these options so you can make the best choice when you first enroll. A Medicare advisor can help pinpoint the right plan for your travel style.

2. Know where you’ll need Medicare coverage.

If you’re planning to travel within the U.S., some Medicare Advantage plans offer travel-friendly options at a lower premium. For example, Highmark’s Freedom Blue PPO and Community Blue PPO offer in-network care for non-emergencies, even when you’re away from home. Keep in mind, Medicare guidelines limit travel to six months a year. 

For a higher premium, Medigap plans cover care with any provider that accepts Medicare — no matter how long you travel. 

If you’ll be traveling abroad often or for long periods of time, there are Medigap plans with foreign travel coverage. “You’ll just need to submit claims to your insurance company for any care you receive abroad,” Meshanko says.

3. Make sure you have Medicare prescription coverage when traveling.

To fill your prescriptions while traveling around the country, use a national pharmacy chain covered by your plan.

If you’re planning to travel abroad for more than a month, you’ll need to plan ahead. “Let your insurance company know that you’ll be gone, so you can pre-fill next month’s prescriptions before you go,” Meshanko says.

4. Understand Medicare’s emergency care coverage overseas.

With a Medicare Advantage plan, you have emergency and urgent care worldwide. Foreign hospitals aren’t required to file Medicare claims, though, so you’ll need to send an itemized bill to your insurance company when you get home. 

Medigap plans also cover international emergency and urgent care. However, Original Medicare rarely offers emergency care outside the U.S.

“If you have an emergency in a foreign country, call your insurance company as soon as you can,” Meshanko says. “They will walk you through the process and tell you what you’ll need to file the claim later.”

Learn more about traveling with Medicare.

Connect with a Highmark Licensed Medicare Advisor to learn more about our travel-friendly plans. To schedule a personal consultation, visit our Medicare reservations page.

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Highmark Choice Company, Highmark Senior Health Company, and Highmark Senior Solutions Company are Medicare Advantage plans with a Medicare contract. HM Health Insurance Company is a PDP plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Highmark Choice Company, Highmark Senior Health Company, Highmark Senior Solutions Company, and HM Health Insurance Company depends on contract renewal.

Health benefits or health benefit administration may be provided by or through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Choice Company, Highmark Senior Health  Company, Highmark Senior Solutions Company, or Highmark Health Insurance Company, all of which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.  All references to “Highmark” in this document are references to the Highmark company that is providing the member’s health benefits or health benefit administration.