AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many people choose to explore the world during their retirement years. Travel insurance is one thing, but for those 65 and up, knowing what Medicare covers while on vacation is another.

Being in a high-risk group during a global pandemic can be disconcerting for those looking to plan a trip.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19 increases with age. Medicare Advisor with Chapter Ari Parker said it’s important to know how your insurance coverage works when traveling.

“If you have a Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement, then you don’t need to worry about traveling inside the United States, you can see any doctor who accepts Original Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, though, then you definitely want to check if you’re traveling outside a 50-mile radius from home, whether your doctor is in network,” said Parker. “Now what’s defined as the United States, well, definitely the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. It also includes the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Those are all considered parts of the United States. Now, if you’re outside of those areas, then you’re not going to have coverage under original Medicare.”

When it comes to traveling outside the United States, then coverage varies by plan, said Parker.

“If you have a Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement, then you actually have 80%, coverage abroad, 80% coverage outside of the United States. And it’s up to $50,000 lifetime for the first 60 days in the event of an emergency.”

The new year also brings some changes to Medicare.

“There are two parts to Medicare Part A hospitalization and Part B outpatient services, like visits to the doctor. Vaccines are now covered under Medicare Part B. It also covers diagnostic tests related to COVID-19.”
Before you book your next adventure, Parker said there are three things your family members or loved ones should know before you travel. First, Parker said to inform them about your type of insurance coverage.

“Also, please share a copy of the card with your family member or loved one, so that they can provide it to a provider in the case of an emergency. The second thing is your prescriptions. It’s so critical for your loved one to have a list of your prescriptions down to the dosage, frequency and even the pharmacy that you use. Finally, make sure that your loved one knows your blood type.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects those 65 and older will reach 94.7 million in 2060. A travel survey done by AARP last year shows baby boomers also outspend younger generations on travel. Spending $6,691 on average for travel in 2021, while Gen X travelers spent around $5,000 and millennials $4,000.