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Which Medicare plans cover emergency care overseas?

Dear Toni: I’m planning a trip to Italy in September. Which Medicare plans cover emergency medical costs while traveling overseas?

My travel agent said that some Medicare plans, such as Plan F, provide foreign travel medical coverage, but others, including Plan G (which I am enrolled in), do not. Is this true? — Laura from Dallas

Dear Laura: You were given inaccurate advice. Medicare does not cover emergency medical care during foreign travel. It is an added benefit that a supplemental Medicare plan (Medigap) provides.

Medicare supplement Plans F and G (as well as C, D, M and N) will cover the same limited amount of overseas emergency care. These plans pay for care during the first 60 days of a trip outside of the United States. There is a $250 deductible, and the supplement plan pays only 80 percent, up to a lifetime maximum benefit of $50,000. You pay 20 percent and any amounts over the $50,000 lifetime maximum.

Who knows what an air ambulance overseas will cost? Talk to your travel agent or explore online for true travelers’ insurance that will take care of any medical needs abroad.

But beware: Not all travel insurance plans include medical coverage. It’s important to read the plan’s conditions and restrictions before purchasing the travel insurance policy.

Another important note: Original Medicare and Medicare Part D plans take care of medical and prescription drug expenses in the U.S. only. So be sure you bring enough of your prescription medication while you are overseas, or you will have to pay out of pocket.

There are new Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans that pay for medical expenses overseas. Be sure that you are covered with that specific Advantage plan in case you have a medical event overseas. Call the plan to verify how to receive emergency medical benefits outside the U.S. because coverage rules may vary.

Remember, there is a Medicare rule that one cannot be enrolled in original Medicare with a supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan at the same time.

Laura, the travel agent you were speaking with is also unaware that Plan F is no longer available for those enrolling in Medicare Part A. Anyone enrolled in a Medicare supplement Plan F who wants to change to a Plan G or N, which has lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, will have to answer medical underwriting questions to qualify.

The differences between these two supplements are:

■ Plan G offers lower premiums and the same Medicare benefits as Plan F except the Part B deductible is not covered and will be paid for by the enrolled Medicare beneficiary. The Part B deductible for 2024 is $240, which is Plan G’s out-of-pocket cost.

■ Plan N generally has a lower premium than Plan G with higher out-of-pocket costs. There is a $20 copay for a doctor’s visit and a $50 copay for the emergency room. The Part B deductible is also not covered, and the Part B excess charges (which Plan G covers) are not paid by the insurance company.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.

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