Toxic algae got you down? Red tide got you coughing? Are you thinking now might be a good time to take a trip? Well, if you are on a Medicare plan, know before you go and follow these guidelines –

– If you have traditional Medicare only: visit any doctor or hospital in any of the 50 states as long as they are participating in Medicare. Watch out for doctors that charge the excess charges, which could cost you an extra 15%. Traditional Medicare will not cover you outside of the United States except in VERY limited circumstances.

– If you have traditional Medicare with a Medicare supplement/Medigap plan: the same guidelines apply as above. Watch out if you have a Select C or F plan. Unless it’s an emergency, you need to choose your hospitals from the plan’s Select list. Coverage outside of the United States is only available on Plans C, D, F, G, M & N, which allows limited foreign travel emergency.

– If you have traditional Medicare with a prescription drug plan: All drug plans have a network of pharmacies that you must use. Some have 2 levels: preferred & standard, which will have different costs. The good news is that the networks are nationwide, so you can use a chain store here & there. Watch out for filling a prescription at an out-of-network pharmacy, which may be covered only in an emergency.

If you have an Advantage plan (HMO/PPO): Like with the prescription drug plan guidelines listed above, be sure to use the network pharmacies unless it’s an emergency. For medical benefits, many, but not all, cover foreign travel. For those that do, it generally will be limited to urgent & emergency benefits. Contact your plan or read your evidence of coverage.

For all other foreign benefits, consider a separate travel plan that covers: emergency transportation, emergency evacuation, emergency reunion, return of mortal remains, terrorism, trip interruption, some dental emergencies, natural disaster and so much more! These plans are surprisingly affordable and there are those that are tailored to folks that have Medicare. We have plans that cover one trip or multiple trips.

Question of the month comes from Dave in Estero: I’ll be 65 next month and I’ve worked for many years outside of the USA, with only a few years working here. Can I enroll in Medicare? Answer: Yes, you can enroll in Medicare. If you’ve worked less than 10 years in Medicare-covered employment you’ll have to pay a monthly premium for Part A, in addition to the premium for Part B. Keep those questions coming!

Call, click or come in today. You’ll be glad you did!