If you have moved outside the United States permanently, you should decide whether to keep Medicare Parts A and B. Remember, you can have Medicare while you live abroad, but it will usually not cover the care you receive.

Most people qualify for premium-free Part A, meaning you will pay nothing for coverage. If you must pay a premium for Part A, be aware of the high monthly cost for maintaining Part A coverage. Remember, if you are enrolled in Part A, you cannot disenroll without having to pay all benefits you’ve received back to the Social Security Administration (SSA). While you live abroad, you can apply for and receive Social Security retirement benefits if you are a U.S. citizen. In some countries, you can receive Social Security retirement benefits if you or your spouse worked and paid Social Security taxes in the U.S. for at least 10 years. If you were collecting Social Security benefits when you became Medicare-eligible, you may have been automatically enrolled in Part A. For more information about your eligibility for Social Security benefits while you live abroad, contact your nearest Social Security office, Consulate, or Embassy.

Keeping Part B may not be worth the cost if you live abroad permanently and do not take frequent trips to the U.S. To stay enrolled in Part B, you must continue to pay monthly Part B premiums even though Medicare will not cover your care.

Before you move abroad, make sure to explore your options for health coverage in whichever country you may reside. Once you are a resident of certain foreign countries, you may qualify for national health insurance, or you may be able to buy private health insurance. Get specifics about this coverage to ensure that coverage will be adequate and affordable now and in the future.