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I live in the United States and I am on Medicaid (free Federal health insurance for low income individuals). While that can pay for a medical emergency if I was in another state, it might not cover emergencies if I went to Canada or Mexico.

I am on a fixed income, so how can I best prepare for it?

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    First, check the conditions of your credit card. I do not know about american cards, but here in Austria most credit cards have great insurance policies for travel, if you buy your flight with the car. – fischi Mar 12 '18 at 8:13
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    @fischi It's worth checking, but this is much less common for cards in the US, and the policy limitations aren't always that great when it's offered. Most that do offer it have some coverage for cancellation/delay and accidents, sometimes medical evacuation, but not generally for medical bills themselves. Travel insurance that doesn't cover overseas hospital care isn't all that useful. – Zach Lipton Mar 12 '18 at 9:58
  • @ZachLipton yeah that's what I thought - that's the reason why I did not want to create an answer out of that, but merely a suggestion to check what is already covered :-) – fischi Mar 12 '18 at 13:27
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Medicaid does not cover medical care outside the United States. In addition, you should check your state's eligibility rules to ensure you don't need to re-enroll when you get back, as your coverage may lapse if you leave for a longer period of time (sometimes 30 days).

You can prepare for this situation by purchasing travel insurance, either on a per-trip basis or an annual plan if you travel more often. These plans vary, and you should carefully review the fine print to know what is covered and what limitations apply. You should consider sufficient coverage to pay for medical emergencies abroad and for medical evacuation in case a serious illness requires you to return home. Travel insurance can also cover trip cancellation and interruption if your trip is derailed for a covered reason.

  • Where can I find travel Insurance? Do airlines provide them, or would travel agents know more about them? If it is a trip-based plan, would I have to buy it and have it for a few months before? – HeavenlyHarmony Mar 12 '18 at 5:22
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    @HeavenlyHarmony You can search online for travel insurance to find a number of options, including brokers who write policies with more than one insurer and will have tools to compare different policies. Airlines and travel agents often sell per-trip insurance, though it can sometimes be more expensive than buying directly. Some policies will have limitations based on when you buy them; emergencies are usually covered regardless, but anything at all connected to a pre-existing condition can be more restricted. – Zach Lipton Mar 12 '18 at 5:34
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    50K USD does not seem much if it potentially has to cover medical repatriation by air ambulance. Most travel insurance sold in the UK has medical cover up to the millions of GBP. – mdewey Mar 12 '18 at 9:43
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    @ZachLipton I believe the OP was referring to Medicaid, not Medicare. I think the rest of your answer still stands – Machavity Mar 12 '18 at 12:24
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    "Medicare" – do you mean Medicaid? They are different things. – OldBunny2800 Mar 12 '18 at 16:55

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