Medicare Outside the U.S.

Can you use Medicare outside the U.S.? NO

What if you have a Medicare Advantage plan? Some Medicare Advantage plans will pay for emergency care outside the U.S.

Today I talked via Skype to a client who has moved to Costa Rica and was wondering what she needs to do about her Medicare coverage.

Maureen has been enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan since she turned 65. She recently moved out of her Tucson apartment and started traveling the world – and ended up in Costa Rica where she plans to stay for a while.

I got a notice from Maureen’s Medicare Advantage plan that she is being dropped from the plan at the end of this month because she changed her address to one that is not in the plan’s service area. Medicare got the address change info and notified the Medicare Advantage plan that they must dis-enroll her from the Tucson plan.

So Maureen will lose her Medicare Advantage plan which includes Part D drug coverage. But she will be covered by “Original Medicare” which does not include drug coverage. She must buy a Part D plan if she wants one.

I had emailed Maureen and she responded from Costa Rica.  We arranged to talk on Skype and it worked perfectly. We talked about how Medicare works and whether or not she should get a Part D plan. Technically, because she is in Costa Rica, she should not be allowed to get a Part D plan. But if she uses her daughter’s address in California, I suppose she could sign up on line for a drug plan. But Maureen takes no prescriptions, so she’s going to pass on Part D.

Maureen told me about her life in Costa Rica and how she is having a great time. She’s met lot of nice people. She’s going dancing tonight.  And she’s working on learning Spanish.

Maureen said her best friend in Tucson died last year and that got her thinking she needed to see the world while she was healthy. She made a statement I had to write down so I could remember it for future use.  She said, “I figured I’d better dance while I can.”

What a great statement!

Maureen can’t use Medicare outside the U.S., but….

… if she needs to return home for medical care, she will have her Medicare coverage. That’s  because her premium is paid automatically out of her Social Security check.  She keeps her Medicare coverage even if she is living overseas – as long as she pays her Medicare Part B premium.

As we signed off our Skype video call, I told her I think it’s great that she is so adventurous, and I told her to “keep on dancing as long as you can!”.

Another story about having Medicare outside the U.S.

I wrote a few years ago about an American who worked in France and wondered if he needed to sign up for Medicare when he turned 65. I taught AARP’s “Ms Medicare” a thing or two with this article.


1 comment for “Medicare Outside the U.S.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *