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When It Comes to Medicare, Location Matters

Where you live and where you travel makes a difference

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As you consider whether to sign up for Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, don’t forget that where you live and even your travel plans can affect the type of coverage available to you. 

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While Original Medicare covers you throughout the United States, your access to doctors, hospitals and even Medicare Advantage plans will vary depending on your particular community and whether you live in a city, suburb or rural area.

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Medicare beneficiaries who don’t have access to a Medicare Advantage plan, which use networks of doctors and hospitals, mainly live in small and rural communities. Those who live in cities and suburban areas tend to have a wider choice of Medicare Advantage plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans won’t cover any out-of-network care, while others will charge you a higher share of the cost.

Another thing you should factor into your decision is your upcoming travel itinerary. You may be planning to spend more time in another state, either in a second home or visiting children and grandchildren. You should think about what happens if you have a medical emergency or require routine care when you are far from your primary residence.

If you live in two states during the year, you may not be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that will cover you in both of your homes.

Medicare is also tricky when you travel. If you go overseas, don’t expect Medicare to cover you — even in an emergency — although some Medicare Advantage plans cover emergency care abroad. There are some limited circumstances when Original Medicare will pay for care in a foreign hospital or aboard a ship.

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