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Social Security and You: Medicare usually doesn't cover medical expenses outside U.S.


Web Posted: 07/02/2007 12:56 AM CDT


Oscar Garcia
San Antonio Express-News


Question: My wife and I will be traveling this summer to Asia. Will Medicare cover my medical expenses outside of the U.S.?

Answer: People living or traveling outside the United States usually cannot benefit from Medicare. This is because, generally speaking, the program provides protection against the cost of hospital and medical expenses incurred in the United States.

There are rare emergency cases where Medicare can pay for care in Canada or Mexico. Also, Medicare can sometimes pay if a Canadian or Mexican hospital is closer to your home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can provide the care you need. If you get emergency treatment in a Canadian or Mexican hospital or if you live near one, ask someone who works at the hospital about Medicare coverage, or have the hospital help you contact the Medicare Intermediary.

Health insurance protection may be very important to anyone temporarily abroad who plans to return to the United States. If you plan to return to the United States shortly after you are eligible for the medical insurance program, you may wish to enroll during your first enrollment period. If you expect to be abroad for a longer period of time, you may wish to enroll during a later general enrollment period.

A general enrollment period is held January 1 through March 31 of each year. Your protection will begin July 1 of the year you enroll. If you enroll during a general enrollment period, your monthly premium may be increased by 10 percent for each 12-month period you could have had medical insurance coverage but were not enrolled. You will have to pay this extra amount as long as you have Part B.

For more information about Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov



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