DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently took my 80-year-old mother-in-law to see her ancestral village in Ireland. On our return trip through Wales, my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip, which necessitated a partial replacement and a three-week stay in the hospital. In attempting to pay the hospital bill, we were advised by Medicare that it does not cover injuries or illnesses sustained outside of the United States!
Needless to say, this revelation was devastating to us, since my mother-in-law lives on a small Social Security income.
I have talked to more than 20 people since we got the bad news -- and have found only three who were aware of this exemption.
Abby, it would be a public service if you publicize this fact as a warning to others who plan to travel outside the country. -- STEVE CRAWFORD, CHAMBLEE, GA.
DEAR MR. CRAWFORD: People on Medicare should discuss purchasing supplementary medical insurance, which will provide coverage while they are in another country.
Those who are not on Medicare should make certain their health insurance policy provides coverage while they are out of the country. Many plans do provide some type of coverage, such as emergency services, but each plan varies, and it is up to the individual to find out what his or her plan offers.
Most insurance brokers and agents have an insurance guide that lists the various plans and the coverages they offer. If you are unable to obtain one from a broker or agent, contact your state insurance department or state insurance commissioner's office for a guide.