Medicare Eligibility If You Move Out of The United States

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Medicare generally does not cover health services outside the United States. If you move outside the United States:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), is available to you if you return. No monthly premium is withheld from your Social Security benefit payment for this protection.
  • You can continue paying for your Part B benefits or drop them while out of the country.

Since Medicare benefits are available only in the United States, it may not be to your advantage to pay the premium for Part B medical insurance if you will be out of the United States for a long period of time. But be aware that when you return and sign up for Part B, your premium will be 10% higher for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled in Part B, but were not.

If you want to drop your Part B coverage while you are out of the country, you must notify the Social Security Administration. Your Part B benefits — and premiums — will continue for one more month after the month you notify Social Security that you wish to cancel.

If you return to the United States, you must re-enroll in Part B, but you may only do so from January through March each year, your benefits will not begin until July, and you may have to pay a premium penalty.

For Part D, the situation is a bit different. With Part D you cannot continue paying your premiums while you are out of the country. Once you move outside of the U.S., you are ineligible for Part D. Contact your Part D plan to coordinate your disenrollment date with the date of your move abroad. If you move back to the States, you will again be eligible for Part D and can enroll in a plan during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The SEP begins the month before you move back to the U.S., the month you move back and up to 2 months after the move.

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Updated July 24, 2008

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