Snowbirds and Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans will cover you for emergency care at any facility that accepts Medicare while you travel in the United States. However, should you suffer with a cold, contact the flu, develop a rash, or have any other non-emergency need to see a physician, you could end up having to pay out of pocket. It all depends on the Medicare Advantage Plan you selected.
Harry and Mary from Pennsylvania own a home in Florida where they spend their winters. On the way to Florida, they drive to Tennessee to visit their daughter and her family. Since this has been their routine for years, when they were selecting their Medicare Advantage Plan they asked their agent about travel benefits and were assured that they had coverage. It wasn't until one winter in Florida when Mary developed a bad cough and went to see a doctor that she learned her plan did not cover the doctor visit. The promised "travel benefits" of her specific plan were only for a tri-state area and neither Tennessee nor Florida were included in the plan.
While I was not the agent who sold them the policy, Harry and Mary called me for advice. I recommended that they use telemedicine (talking to a doctor on the telephone or having a video chat, such as Zoom) while they travel. Not all plans cover telemedicine or virtual healthcare as in-network expenses, but fortunately theirs did. During the next Annual Enrollment Period I helped them find a Medicare Advantage Plan that will allow them to see a doctor for in-network rates in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Florida.
As a snowbird, you know the value of good healthcare coverage while you are spending several months in your home away from home. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or are considering purchasing one, make sure the travel benefits fit your specific needs. Should you need my assistance in finding the plan that's right for you, please give me a call at 941-315-5801.
When you plan your trip, it is a good idea to call your carrier's customer service line and discuss the following:
Let your carrier know you will be traveling,
Ask them if there are in-network providers in the area, and
Find out if your plan includes telemedicine.
When you arrive, if you are planning a lengthy stay, you may find it helpful to establish a relationship with an in-network physician in the event that you need their services.
For those who enjoy traveling outside of the United States, Medicare Advantage Plans generally do not cover care outside of the U.S. Some plans may offer a supplemental benefit that covers emergency and urgently needed services. I am happy to discuss your options.