Many Baby Boomers and Medicare beneficiaries spend their time on the move. “Snowbirds” find lots of reasons for travel, be it vacations, traveling to visit grandchildren or just heading south in the winter to escape the cold.
Fortunately, your Original Medicare coverage (Part A and Part B) can cover you in any state. But did you know that Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies can cover you in other states?
And if you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you may be able to find in-network providers when you travel away from home.
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Below we’ll take a look at how different types of Medicare coverage can work when you’re on the road.
Original Medicare is accepted in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
No matter where you reside, you can see a doctor in another state with Medicare, as long as that doctor accepts Medicare patients.
There aren’t state-specific residency requirements for your Original Medicare benefits, as long as you are a U.S. citizen or have been a legal resident for at least five consecutive years.
While the majority of health care providers in the U.S. accept Medicare, there are three different categories of Medicare acceptance a provider might fall into:
Medicare Advantage plans provide the same benefits as Original Medicare, and some plans may cover additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage or dental and vision care.
But some Medicare Advantage plan networks may come with more provider restrictions than Original Medicare.
Many Medicare Advantage plans generally feature either local or regional networks of participating providers. But there are several different types of Medicare Advantage plans, and the specific type of plan can determine how and where it may be used.
We recommend that you speak directly to your plan and your doctor to find out how your services may be covered by your Medicare Advantage plan. All Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for emergency care received outside of the network.
Some Medicare Advantage plans may extend special coverage to accommodate the “Snowbird” or “Sunbird” population who split their time between two different states. Be sure to check with your plan carrier to learn more about your options for receiving covered care when you travel.
Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) is used alongside your Original Medicare coverage to help cover costs like deductibles and copays that Medicare doesn’t pay for.
Any provider who accepts Medicare will accept Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, no matter what state you are in.
There are two other features of Medigap plans that pertain to travel:
Medicare Part D plans provide coverage for prescription drugs, which Original Medicare doesn’t typically pay for.
Some Part D plans contract with national retail pharmacies. Depending on your plan, you may be able to have prescriptions filled at preferred pharmacy locations across the U.S.
Some Part D plans may restrict you to a more local or regional network of pharmacies. Be sure to check with your plan carrier and your pharmacist or doctor for more information.
When you travel away from home, be sure to bring your Medicare card with you. Before seeking any treatment from a new provider, find out if they accept Medicare insurance and if they accept your private Medicare plan, if you have one.
You can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area. You may be able to find a plan with coverage that fits your snowbird lifestyle.
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Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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