Does Medicare work anywhere I live or go? If I travel to another state, will my Medicare coverage still pay my bills? Can I see any doctor and Medicare will still pay?
- Never any networks, you can travel anywhere in the US and still have coverage
- Medicare works with any hospital, doctor or lab in the United States
- Medicare follows you when you move to a new city or state
Because Medicare supplement plans go hand in hand with original Medicare, you will never have a gap in coverage when you travel or relocate to a different city.
Paying too much for your Medigap plan? Use our online instant Medigap quote engine to find the best rates based on your age, gender and zip.
There is nothing like original Medicare for peace of mind, especially when you move. Medicare can work anywhere.
What follows is a true story. Events actually happened. Only the names have been changed.
Does Medicare work anywhere in the US?
Fred and Ethel had been married for years. Like most couples, they had their spats but they always made up and deep down inside they truly loved each other.
Fred had a heart condition that required him to see a specialist several times a year. Ethyl was a nurse for many years before retiring due to health issues and she took good care of Fred. As they aged they realized they wanted to be closer to their daughter Lucy in Atlanta, so they made plans to sell their house and relocate.
Lucy loved her parents and so did her husband Ricky. Their children were grown and they agreed to invite Fred and Ethyl to move in with them.
And so it began.
Fred had a heart attack
Fred and Ethyl sold their home in Louisiana and moved to Georgia to live with Lucy and Ricky. The move went smoothly but not without incident.
Soon after moving Fred had a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to Northside Hospital. After being stabilized in the ER Fred was admitted to the coronary care unit where he could be monitored 24 hours. A few days later he was moved to a private room so his care could be continued until he was well enough to be discharged.
Will Medicare work anywhere?
Medicare covers emergency room, hospital ICU, doctors, scans, and inpatient lab work in full subject to a $1288 deductible (2016). For the next 60 days following admission Medicare will pay 100% of your medical bills.
Fred was ready for discharge but the doctors wanted him to spend a few days in a rehab facility before going home where he would need periodic home health care.
Medicare works anywhere. In the hospital, in rehab, at home.
But Fred and Ethyl didn’t have Medicare
Medicare can work anywhere, but Medicare Advantage is a different animal.
In order to save money they enrolled in a $0 premium Medicare Advantage HMO plan. What they saved in premiums they paid out in health care expenses between doctor trips and hospital visits while living in Louisiana. As Fred’s health declined their out of pocket costs grew to several thousand dollars each year.
Lucy was helping her parents with the move so she called their insurance carrier to find out what needed to be done to continue coverage. She was told their current plan would be good for 60 days. Once they relocate to Georgia they will need to notify Social Security of their new address and secure new coverage.
But things didn’t go as smoothly as expected.
Fred’s emergency admission to the hospital was covered by his HMO even though the hospital was not in his network. But doctor visits by both Fred and Ethyl prior to his admission were not covered and they had to pay out of pocket.
Fred’s rehab and home health care would not be covered by his plan either since Atlanta providers were not included in his plan.
Their out of pocket expenses had already run more than $1,000 and they were going to become even higher unless they could secure new coverage.
Lucy called me three days before the end of the month, asking for my help in securing new Medicare coverage. Specifically, she wanted a Medicare supplement plan for her parents.
What she wanted was impossible
When Lucy called, her dad was still in the hospital and they had not yet notified Social Security of the change in address. The best we could hope for would be to have everything in place by the first of the month following.
In the meantime their non-covered medical expenses were mounting.
Even moving to another Medicare Advantage plan with Georgia networks is possible, but not within the time frame they needed.
Original Medicare has no networks. If Fred and Ethyl had original Medicare and a supplement plan their out of pocket exposure would have been minimal.
Their Medigap plan would also follow them from Louisiana to Georgia without a hitch. No need to change plans. The same coverage they had in Louisiana would continue in Georgia.
Does Medicare work anywhere? Absolutely. So will your Medicare Advantage plan. Just be prepared to pay more when you travel out of the Advantage plan service area, and changing coverage once you arrive may be a challenge.
When you want full coverage anywhere you go, nothing beats original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan
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