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Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Dear Tom and Alan:

I’m over 65 and on Medicare with a supplement.

Kind of a slow day and I read some details about my coverage.

I was surprised to see that “out of the country” is not covered by Medicare. What!?

I do travel to Mexico, and once in a while to Europe, and now I have no protection through Medicare?

Whew, good thing I didn’t get hit by a bus or something! Anyway, what do I do about my travel, and being covered?

Nash

Tom: In the brochure on choosing a medigap policy, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) point out some of these supplemental plans offer emergency coverage in foreign countries even though Medicare itself does not.

For example, Plans C, D, F, G, M and N may pay 80 percent of the bill just to get you back to the U.S. Most Medicare supplements limit their 80 percent to $50,000 lifetime.

So, Nash, the plan you are looking for is an international travel medical insurance policy.

In general, these plans do not cover pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart issues.

They may offer coverage for an acute onset of a pre-existing condition when it is a sudden and/or unexpected recurrence with no forewarning.

Unfortunately, only a doctor, after a claim has been filed, can define the condition as acute and sudden.

Also, some plans specifically exclude pre-existing conditions, so read carefully.

Al: For many years, we’ve referred people to Petersen International Underwriters for travel insurance.

It covers travelers whether us going there or them coming here. The company is, or was, backed by Lloyd’s of London which is enough to impress me. And, it’s easy to apply on line with no extra fee.

Just because you asked, I googled “international travel medical insurance” and came up with Consumeradvocate.org listing the 10 best travel insurance companies. Here they are:

Travelinsurance.com; Generali Global Assistance; Travelex Insurance Services; RoamRight Travel Insurance; Medjet; World Nomads; Allianz Travel; AXA; AardvarkCompare.com (really); and, INF. Also included were Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealthCare Global and Good Sam.

Tom: I’m pretty sure we’re not certified to sell any of those, which is OK because I haven’t even heard of many of them.

We can do the paperwork for Petersen International (PIU.org), but it costs the consumer an additional $100 so we don’t.

Al: I went to PIU.org to get a quote for our reader. I put in one week for a 70-year-old male.

For a maximum benefit of $250,000 with a $2,500 deductible, the total bill came to $59. The $1 million and $5 million benefits were not available. For a $50,000 benefit with a $1,000 deductible, the rate was $58.

I didn’t specify Mexico or Europe, but they’re both included in what Petersen calls ‘base coverage’. There is a long list of countries not eligible for this. There are 43 countries that would cost more; they range from Afghanistan to Yemen.

Petersen emphasizes that their plans are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

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Submit questions to schrette@gmail.com or alancash@gmail.com.

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