Medicare Portability

Our Goal:  Ensure U.S. citizens have  access abroad to their earned medicare benefits.  

Trying to Understand Medicare?  

  • Here's the link for the Social Security Administration information:    
  • If you visit the social security administration website to see how Medicare works you’ll find a lot of information, charts, graphs and processes for recipients to follow in order to enroll and use Medicare.  What you won’t find -  us.
  • Normally deductions for Medicare are taken from most paychecks throughout a worker’s career and before they turn 65 they are able to enroll and subsequently to collect the benefits as they are needed for health care costs.
  • Click here to for a diagram on how to enroll in Medicare.

What Happens When You Live Abroad? 

Military?.....US Citizens who served in the military can access their retiree health care benefits wherever they reside through the Tricare Overseas Program.

Government employees?..... Retirees from the federal government also have healthcare insurance that covers them wherever they choose to live

Most everyone else?........You paid in but you can’t collect benefits.

What Options Are You Left With?

  • Join host countries health plan (if they offer, you qualify and you can afford) - Some countries allow or even require US seniors to opt into their national health care at a cost, paid through local taxes or direct payment. This is an additional cost on top of what they must pay for Medicare services they are unable to use. 
  • Private Insurance from U.S. or host country ($$$$$$) - But many countries do not offer national health care to expatriates, forcing many seniors to buy additional local or international insurance coverage at significant cost in addition to what they continue to pay for Medicare coverage they are unable to use. 
  • Travel back to the United States for covered care (if you’ve continued to pay for  Medicare) - Many Medicare beneficiaries choose to return to the US for serious health care needs, and many for routine health care and regular check-ups and medical tests.  Those American seniors have significant out-of-pocket travel costs, and the Medicare trust pays for their health care at significantly more costly US rates. 
  • Pay out of Pocket - “self-insure”  (Costs vary by country but tend to be less than what you would pay in the US).

Alternative Solutions for Exploration

Democrats Abroad is collaborating with other organizations to conduct a feasibility study to establish potential expansion of  Medicare coverage.   
Medicare International (pilot program)

Possible Scenarios

  • Rebate (money deducted plus interest)
  • Expand the system to include those abroad who continue to pay
  • Adopt & expand governmental employee system
  • Adopt and expand military system
  • Offset cost of private insurance or country coverage by negotiated agreement
  • Build relationships between governments for funding/providing services
  • Construct a specific health plan for overseas Americans

How Medicare is Financed

Payroll tax rates
(in percent)






Employer – since 2009






Employee – 2011 only






Combined Total