Health Care Abroad Medicare While Living Abroad

Having access to health care abroad is important for any international traveler, but it may be of special concern to retirees who plan to move overseas permanently. Older people tend to have more health concerns than the general population, and should be prepared to deal with medical care and all associated expenses when these concerns arise.

The most important issues to clarify before you leave are:

  • Will you be able to find access to doctors, hospitals and health care abroad?
  • Will your personal insurance policy or Medicare cover you while living abroad?

Health Care Abroad and Overseas Travel

Typically, Medicare coverage overseas is not included in a standard Medicare plan. If you currently obtain healthcare coverage from Medicare, overseas travel may require you to purchase a private plan of your own.

If you already have a private plan, living abroad may affect the details of your coverage. Before you leave, review your insurance plan carefully and contact your provider to make sure that you will be able to obtain and pay for health care abroad. Your coverage should also cover expenses for emergency care and evacuation.

Obtaining Health Care Abroad

Bear in mind that you may have insurance coverage, but that doesn’t mean doctors and hospitals will always accept your insurance card as a form of payment. In many countries, hospitals expect payment for services upfront. Additionally, countries with national healthcare may not always provide medical services to non-citizens.

You can avoid potential problems by taking a few important steps before you leave:

  • Familiarize yourself with the healthcare system in your new country of residence.
  • Make sure your passport emergency contact information is complete and the passport is signed.
  • Photocopy your passport photo and data pages, as well as your itinerary (if you are only traveling temporarily), and leave copies with family and friends at home in case of an emergency.