Travelers face limits on Medicare coverage

Travel Q&A


I am a retiree planning some extensive travel in Europe and Asia. Are there any Medicare-approved hospitals abroad?

The only countries outside the United States in which Medicare provides coverage are Canada and Mexico.

Even in those countries, Medicare, which helps pay for health-care services for people 65 and older and some disabled people, requires that the foreign hospital be closer and more accessible than the nearest U.S. hospital equipped to treat a patient.

For Canadian coverage, at the time of the emergency a patient must be in Canada or traveling via Canada between Alaska and another state by the most direct route.

As for health insurance coverage from a private carrier, here are a few possibilities:

Wallach & Co., based in Middleburg, Va., 800-237-6615 or 540-687-3166, fax 540-687-3172, administers two policies. Health Care Abroad, for trips of one to 120 days, covers up to $250,000 in medical expenses for $4 a day; Health Care Global, for one to 180 days, $100,000 of medical coverage for $16 a week; deductible: $100 per incident.

Travelsafe, in Wyomissing, Pa., 800-523-8020, fax 610-678-1238, provides trip cancellation and baggage insurance as well as medical care. For a trip costing, say, $501 to $1,000, the premium is $59. This provides $10,000 in medical reimbursement and $25,000 emergency evacuation or transport. It is valid for up to 45 days and is $4 a day after that. If the traveler has other medical coverage, Travelsafe picks up whatever the primary carrier does not.

If it's any consolation, Medicare defines the United States as comprising not only the 50 states and the District of Columbia but also Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

For more information, call 800-638-6833.

Pub Date: 8/10/97

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