If you are a Medicaid recipient, you may be dropped from enrollment in the medical plans if you do not keep a U.S. state residence or address or if you lose your SSI eligibility (see our tipsheet on "SSI, SSDI & International Exchange" for more). Loss of enrollment creates a gap of coverage upon return home from traveling abroad, especially if the travel health insurance does not cover you in your home country.
Individuals who are entitled to Medicare and leave the United States are still enrolled in the Medicare program (i.e. will not have to reapply upon return to the U.S.) The issue is that Medicare will not make payments for services given or supplies sent outside the United States.*
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident on Medicare, consider purchasing a Medicare supplement plan (Medigap) from a local insurance agent instead of getting separate international coverage. This supplement will cover you for the first 60 days of a trip outside of the United States. There is a $250 deductible. After meeting the deductible, the insurance will cover 80% of all billed charges up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. This "Foreign Travel Emergency" benefit is just one of the many benefits included in the supplement package. The premium will likely be between $100 and $150 depending on your age, and if you already have a Medicare supplement, you may only need to add as little as $9.00 for overseas coverage.**
Contact the Social Security Administration and the Medicaid/Medicare office for more information (see Related Links).
* The "United States" means the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and, for purposes of services rendered on a ship, includes the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the United States
** Information from: Good Neighbor Insurance, subject to change