Medicare coverage outside of the U.S.


Q. A local hospital in Panama accepts Federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield and does not bill the patient who has Medicare Part B for deductible or co-pay because the hospital bills federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield directly for the total medical expense, and federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield collects whatever they don’t pay from Medicare. This surprised me because I thought Medicare did not pay for any medical attention received outside of the U.S.

I have Medicare Part B but no other insurance and was told I wouldn’t qualify under this hospital’s policies as I don’t have Blue Cross/Blue Shield, federal or otherwise. Please clarify if, under certain circumstances, Medicare does pay for part of medical expenses acquired outside of the U.S.

A. Although I can’t clarify that for you, I can refer you to the official Medicare site, which explains the circumstances under which Medicare-covered expenses will be paid when outside of the U.S. and its territories. Go to


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

Leave A Reply