Will Medicare Cover Me on a Cruise?

A cruise is a great way to vacation and can allow you to see several spots within one trip. Not only do they provide activities all day long, but there can be multiple kinds of restaurants on the ship to please everyone’s taste buds! If you’re planning a cruise in your senior years, there are a few things to be aware of before you head offshore.

One of those things is your health insurance. Most seniors are enrolled in Medicare, the federal insurance program for those 65 and older, and it’s not always the easiest to understand. To learn more about Medicare eligibility, visit However, here is what you need to know about your Medicare coverage on a cruise ship.

Having Original Medicare on a cruise

Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B, which are your inpatient and outpatient services. Your coverage outside the U.S. with Medicare is restricted, but you can get some coverage while on a cruise. If you are in U.S. territorial waters and within six hours of a U.S. port, Medicare can help cover your medical services. However, you will not be covered by Medicare once you are no longer in U.S. territorial waters.

But what if you have other Medicare plans?

Medigap plan coverage on a cruise

If you paired a Supplement plan with Original Medicare, you might have more extensive coverage. For example, Medicare Supplement Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N over worldwide emergency coverage no matter where you are at the time of the incident. As long as medical service happens within 60 days of leaving the U.S., your Supplement plan would cover 80% of the cost of your services after you meet the $250 deductible.

However, your Supplement plan won’t always pay 80% of the cost. Once the plan pays $50,000 in worldwide emergency coverage, you are responsible for all charges. It’s important to know that limit in case you travel out of the U.S. frequently.

What about Medicare Advantage coverage?

If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan and receive your Medicare benefits through your plan, you will also have worldwide emergency coverage. Generally, all Advantage plans have a specific copay or coinsurance amount that you would pay for that service. However, keep in mind emergency means life or limb. If you have a sinus infection and need some medicine, your Advantage plan would likely not cover a visit to a clinic on your cruise.

Whenever you do have a medical service completed, you will want to keep all receipts and information. Once you’re back in the U.S., you can submit your receipts to your Advantage plan to see if you can get reimbursed.

This process doesn’t seem all that fun, so you may look into other options such as traveler’s insurance.

Why you should consider traveler’s insurance with Medicare

Traveler’s insurance is a great additional policy that can help cover your costs on the spot. It can also help cover your non-emergent medical services, which is a plus since Medicare and Medicare supplemental plans don’t offer coverage for non-emergent services. This is something you may want to consider purchasing before you head off on your vacation.

Don’t forget about prescription coverage

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement plan and a Part D drug plan, you’ll want to know about your prescription coverage on the cruise. Whenever you are outside of the U.S., you won’t have prescription coverage. Therefore, you will want to ensure you have enough medications to make it through your trip or at least have enough money to purchase prescriptions in case you need to!

Final thoughts

Cruise ship vacations are exciting trips to look forward to. However, it’s essential to prepare for all situations, so you know what to do in case you need a medical service.