TONI SAYS: Moving overseas…should we keep our Medicare?

By Toni King

Hello, Toni:

My husband and I are enrolled in Medicare with a Medicare supplement, and Part D coverage. We will be moving to England and then return to the United States in a few years. I understand that there is no coverage from Medicare for overseas expenses and that we should seek a medical plan if there are issues while not in the United States.

Is there a way to suspend our Medicare coverage while we are overseas and reinstate it without a penalty when we return? It’s a large expense to have to pay Medicare Part B, Medicare supplement and Part D premiums, and not be able to use the benefits. If we were to drop Medicare, the supplement and Part D would we have to be underwritten when we return to the states.

Thanks for your help with our Medicare planning and figuring out our expenses while we are not living in the United States. Sandy from Houston, TX

Hi Sandy:

That’s a great question. Will you or your husband be working full-time with true company benefits? Or are you just moving out of the U.S. for a few years to get away?

If you or your husband will be working with company benefits, then you can delay Part B until you return to the United States without getting the “famous” Medicare Part B penalty.

If not working full-time with company benefits, then I would advise you and your husband to remain enrolled in Medicare and keep your Medicare Supplement plan, because you can never know what will happen to your health in the future. Without full-time employer benefits, if you decide to drop your Medicare Supplement and return to the United States later, both you and your husband will be subject to underwriting when you reapply for a new Medicare Supplement.

I’ve encountered other individuals who, upon moving overseas stopped their Medicare Part B and then developed serious health issues. Upon returning to the United States, they re-enrolled in Medicare Part B only to discover that their Medicare Part B penalty goes all the way back to the day they turned 65 at a 10% penalty for each year since age 65.

Let’s say you and your spouse are 75 years old when you return to the States and re-enroll in Medicare. The Medicare Part B penalty will be 75 years minus 65 years equals 10 years times 10% or a 100% penalty. Not for one month, but for the rest of your and your spouse’s Medicare enrollment.

Sandy, because you are moving overseas, during a Toni Says Medicare consultation (in person or by Zoom) I would advise:

  • Do not disenroll from Medicare because you and your spouse will have to re-enroll in Medicare Part B and could receive the “famous” Medicare Part B penalty.
  • If you cancel your Medicare supplement, then when you return to the States you can re-apply for a new Medicare supplement which will involve underwriting and apply for a Part D prescription drug plan.
  • Another option, if you have health issues upon your return and cannot qualify medically (pass underwriting) for a Medicare Supplement, will be to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D.

Sandy, take your time to explore your Medicare options. Do not worry because there are plenty of options for you when you return to the United States.

With Medicare, it’s what you DON’T know that will HURT YOU! Need Medicare help? Call the Toni Says Medicare hotline at (832) 519-8664 or email [email protected] for assistance. Toni’s books are available at with a bundle discount for Toni Says readers.