As a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to join Medicare when you turn 65 years old. You may also qualify for Medicare if you are under 65 because you have a disability, or other special situation but normally, even if you are receiving Social Security, you cannot get Medicare coverage until you are 65 years old.
There are two types of Medicare coverage. The first option is to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A helps with hospital costs and skilled nursing services after a hospital stay plus some other skilled care. Medicare Part B helps with the cost of doctor visits and other medical services that do not require an inpatient hospital stay. Medicare Parts A and B are provided by the government and government subcontractors. Medicare pays fees for your care directly to the hospitals and doctors you visit. This is often referred to as “fee for service.”
The second option is to enroll for Medicare Advantage Part C. Medicare Advantage Part C is provided by private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare pays a fixed fee to the plan for your care, then the plan pays the doctors and hospitals. Plan C combines hospital, doctor, and outpatient care in one plan.
Along with Medicare Parts A and B or C, you may also sign up for Part D which helps pay for prescription drugs. This additional coverage costs will come directly out of your Social Security payment each month, along with any payments that you already have for Part B or Part C.
To cover anything not covered by Parts A, B and D, you may also sign up for a Supplemental Insurance Plan, commonly called “Medigap” insurance. Currently, the Medigap plans are designated Parts F, G, K, L and M, or N. Medigap premiums also come out of your Social Security payment.
What About International Coverage?
If you are a senior who spends more than 60 days outside the U.S. per year, Medicare Parts A, B or C do not cover you outside the 60 days and max out at $50,000.00 of coverage. When you have been outside the US for more than 60 days, you are uncovered.
There is a solution though: If you live outside the U.S. for 6 months per year or longer, you qualify for international major medical insurance. A global policy will follow you wherever you travel in the world.
Mexico on my Mind and their sister site, American Insurance for ExPats, has customer care representatives that can look at what you are currently paying for your Medigap policy, and potentially recommend a less expensive plan that will not only provide you with the coverage you need in the U.S., but also allow you to afford international major medical insurance outside the U.S.
The plans allows you to visit any doctor available to you outside the US, no matter where you are in the world. The IMG staff is multi-lingual and can work with any language and currency. While you remain in the US, Medicare will be your primary insurance, and when you are outside the U.S., you have coverage through an international major medical policy intended for catastrophic illness or accident while residing abroad.
You can customize your coverage plan, and then select from multiple deductibles and modes of payment in order to accommodate your financial means. With your medical history in mind, the program provides flexible underwriting methods to extend coverage to you that may be declined by other companies. In addition, you will also have direct access to their “Medical Concierge,” a unique service that provides you with personalized assistance in locating a local health care provider.
If you will be living outside the U.S. for more than 60 consecutive days, but are not planning to live there year after year, than a medical travel insurance policy is an excellent option. The application only takes about 10 minutes to complete, there is no age limit or health underwriting, and your coverage can begin as soon as the next day.