Medigap Travel Medical Insurance - 2021 Review
Medigap Travel Medical Insurance is available on some Medigap plans when Medicare travelers leave the USA.
To all intents and purposes, Medicare will not support you with medical insurance when you are traveling outside the US. We often find ourselves discussing this with our Senior customers, so wished to provide a more comprehensive overview.
Medicare Supports in the US Only
For the purposes of Medicare, coverage is available in:
- 50 states
- Washington D.C.
- Puerto Rico
- US Virgin Islands
- Northern Mariana Islands
- American Samoa
Any other territory is not considered part of the USA, and so Medicare will not offer medical insurance support.
Medicare Supports in a Few Rare Overseas Cases
There are a few, rare, cases where Medicare insurance can support a traveler overseas for dialysis, doctor, ambulance and inpatient hospital services.
- Despite being in the US when a medical emergency occurs, a foreign hospital is the closest that can treat your condition.
- Traveling through Canada, without delay, on a direct route, to or from Alaska, and a medical emergency occurs.
- You live in the US, but a foreign hospital is closer to your home than the nearest US hospital.
In other words, Medicare insurance will not support a traveler overseas in all but a few, extreme, cases.
Those who embark on board a ship in the US may also find themselves without Medicare medical insurance support. If the ship is more than six hours away from a US port, Medicare will not cover any medical treatment on board.
Medicare Drug Plans Do Not Support Outside the USA
Prescription drug plans that you rely upon in the US will not be supported should you buy your medication overseas.
Medigap Policies May Support You Overseas
Travelers who buy Standard Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N are eligible to receive emergency health insurance cover when they travel internationally.
In the past, Medigap Plans E, H, and I provided international medical cover as well. These plans are no longer available to purchase. However, those who enrolled in Medigap Plans E, H and I prior to June 1st 2010 may keep their plans.
These older Medigap Plans also offer international medical cover for those traveling internationally.
Medigap International Medical Cover
Medigap Plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, M and N will cover the following:
- International Emergency Medical Care. This care must begin within 60 days of the beginning of the trip.
So, if the medical issue arises later than the 60 days, there will be no Medigap support.
Medigap will pay 80% of billed charges. The charges need to be medically necessary emergency care. A $250 annual deductible must be met. The traveler will also be responsible for the 20% co-pay. The State Department will not offer any form of financial support to a US traveler for medical treatment.
Note that international emergency travel medical insurance with Medigap has a lifetime limit of $50,000.
Limitations of Medigap International Travel Medical Insurance
The first and most obvious limitation of Medigap Travel Medical Insurance is that there is only $50k of medical insurance cover. At AARDY, we have offered consistent advice over the years that the minimum level of international travel medical insurance should be $100k. This is the level we recommend to all of our customers, and the minimum level we look to take ourselves. Medigap at $50k of cover is not enough, in our opinion. International private hospitals can charge $3k-$4k per day. $100k is a comfortable minimum level of travel medical insurance cover, and Medigap does not provide this.
The other challenge is that Medigap’s international emergency medical cover demands a 20% co-pay. So, even if the medical treatment cost only $40k, for example, the traveler would be responsible for $8,000 of this in co-payment.
Our preference, and recommendation, is always to take a travel medical insurance policy that has no deductible, and no co-pay. We see no point in taking medical cover that does not pay the full costs of emergency medical treatment. We would much prefer to have the peace of mind knowing that we had stronger, more comprehensive travel medical insurance in place.
Buy International Travel Medical Insurance
If Medigap Travel Medical Insurance will not adequately support you for overseas medical insurance, what are your options?
Well, the most obvious is to buy international travel medical insurance.
Most travelers choose to do this through the purchase of a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Such policies will incorporate international medical insurance for the duration of the trip.
Many will offer emergency medical cover of at least $100k, with no deductibles, and no co-payments.
Medical Evacuation Cover
Medical evacuation cover should be included whenever you buy travel insurance. Our recommended levels of Medical Evacuation cover are $100k when traveling internationally. If traveling more remotely or off-shore, then we suggest no less than $250k of medical evacuation protection. Again, these are cover levels that are seen in most comprehensive trip insurance policies.
Note also that Medigap Travel Medical Insurance does not offer medical evacuation cover, and will only pay to treat you at the local international facility. We would prefer to have the option for the medical insurer to move us to a more appropriate medical facility. This can include a long-range private jet transfer with an on-board team of doctors and nurses. This is precisely the type of eventuality that medical evacuation cover was designed to support.
Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion Waiver
Recent medical conditions are typically excluded from cover when we buy travel insurance.
However, these excluded medical conditions can be brought back into cover as a result of the inclusion of a medical waiver within the travel insurance policy.
Let’s explain how this works.
Recent Medical Condition – Look-Back Period
When we talk about recent medical conditions being excluded from cover, we are often only talking about those medical conditions that have taken place in the last 60 days prior to the purchase of travel insurance.
Some insurers ‘Look Back’ 180 days prior to the purchase of a trip insurance policy. New or changed medical conditions in the prior 180 days would be excluded from cover. The underlying medical condition associated with new or changed medication in the previous 180 days would be excluded from cover.
The shorter the ‘Look-Back’ period, the more flexible and beneficial the policy is for an international traveler.
Note that the travel insurer does not investigate medical conditions or prescriptions prior to the issue of a policy. Rather, in the event of a claim, they will need to satisfy themselves that the medical issue that is being claimed for was not pre-existing.
Waiver of Medical Exclusion
Although most of us will not have had any recent medical conditions that would be subject to exclusion, some will have. Clearly, this can be quite traumatic – heading overseas knowing that a flare-up of a recent condition could lead to unlimited medical bills without recourse to medical insurance would cause concern for anyone. There is a way to gain peace of mind, and ensure that emergency travel medical insurance is in place, even for someone who has a pre-existing medical condition.
The solution is to obtain a Waiver of Medical Exclusion. This medical waiver is remarkably easy to obtain.
The majority of travel insurance policies that we offer at AARDY incorporate a medical waiver.
What is important is to ensure that we buy travel insurance within the Time-Sensitive Period.
Essentially, as soon as an initial deposit or trip payment is made, the clock is ticking. We have, depending on the trip insurance policy, 14–21 days to buy travel insurance that incorporates a medical waiver. If the travel medical insurance policy is bought within the time-sensitive period, the medical waiver within the policy is activated.
No action is required by the traveler to activate the medical waiver – this happens automatically.
Activation of Medical Waiver
Buy a travel insurance policy that includes a medical waiver.
Buy the policy within the time-sensitive period.
There are one or two limitations to be aware of. The first, perhaps obviously, is that the traveler must be fit to travel when the policy is bought. Travel Medical Insurance is designed to protect against unforeseen events, rather than for those that are certain.
The second, for many trip insurance policies, is that the medical waiver will only be activated if the entire non-refundable trip costs are insured within the travel insurance policy.
Ordinarily a traveler can decide to insure only a limited portion of their trip costs. Some travelers choose not to insure any of their trip costs when buying travel insurance. Instead they opt for a $0 trip cancellation plan. Most of the medical and evacuation benefits still remain. However, many policies will exclude any pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver unless the entire non-refundable trip costs are protected. So, in this case, the purchase of a $0 trip insurance plan would not be recommended.
There are a few insurance plans that offer a medical waiver, yet do not require full trip cover. The iTravelInsured Travel SE is a great example of a policy that does not require such protection. So, with the iTI Travel SE Plan, you could buy Travel Insurance with a $0 trip cost, and yet still receive the full benefits of emergency travel medical insurance, and a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver.
iTravelInsured Travel SE – Insurance Benefits
Maximum Limits Per Person
Trip Cancellation Up to $50,000 of Trip Cost*
Trip Interruption 150% of Trip Cost**
Travel Delay $500 ($125 per day after initial delay of 12 hours))
Missed Connection $500 (after an initial common carrier delay of six hours)
Change Fee $150
Reimbursement of Miles or Reward Points $75
Baggage & Personal Effects $1,500
Baggage Delay $250 (after initial delay of 12 hours)
Accident & Sickness Medical Expense $150,000
Emergency Medical Evacuation $500,000
Common Carrier AD&D $25,000
Pre-existing Condition Waiver Available – if purchased within 20 days of initial trip deposit
AARDY – Travel Insurance Marketplace
AARDY is the leading Travel Insurance Marketplace in the USA. We serve customers as they travel around the world, offering unbiased advice as to the best travel insurance to take for a trip.
We work with what we think are the finest travel insurance carriers in the country. All have excellent customer service, 24/7 emergency assistance teams, and at least an A.M. Best Rating of A. We know that peace of mind is important – our insurance carriers provide this.
Aardy enjoys the highest levels of customer reviews in the insurance industry as a result of our service to our travelers. Our service has no cost to the traveler – the price you see at AARDY is the same price as if you went to each and every travel insurer directly.
MediGap Travel Medical Insurance - Conclusion
Medigap Travel Medical Insurance can be of great benefit to those heading overseas. However, with a 20% co-payment and a $50k lifetime limit it has significant limitations in cover. We recommend that those with Medigap also buy travel medical insurance, which, at the very least, protects the 20% co-payment. Ideally, we would prefer travelers to head overseas with no less than $100k of Travel Medical Insurance. Buy Travel Medical Insurance promptly after your initial trip deposit so as to enjoy the benefits of a Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion Waiver that exists in many trip insurance policies.
Take the time to compare travel medical insurance policies by working with a travel insurance marketplace like AARDY.