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I am traveling to Europe for 6 weeks, but I only have 30-day prescriptions, will my Medicare Part D plan provide early refills before my trip?

Maybe.  Your Medicare Part D plan may anticipate times were you will be traveling out-of-network for a period of time that is longer than your prescription and can provide you with a "vacation override" allowing the pharmacy to give you an early refill (or pre-fill) for a prescription before the trip so that you will have enough medication as you travel.  (You may also hear people refer to a "vacation supply".)

Important:  Your Medicare plan may only grant your vacation override for a 30 or 31-day refill of maintenance drugs just once in a calendar year.

Not all medications may be filled in advance using a Vacation Override - without additional approvals
Some medications that are prone to overuse may be controlled (such as pain medication) and your plan may not be able to provide a vacation override with an earlier refill without additional information or approvals.

How to ask for a Vacation Override
Please contact your Medicare plan's Member Services department and ask for assistance - and be sure to call well in advance of your travel date.  Again, some prescription drugs require additional approvals (since the medications are controlled on a state or federal level) and may delay the process.

In addition, your Medicare plan may require proof of your upcoming international travel and require you to submit travel documentation such as airline tickets, lodging reservations "as evidence to substantiate your travel activities (for a travel refill request of over a month supply)."  Some plans may require you to submit a "Prescription Advance Purchase Request Form" that includes your prescribing doctor's contact information.

Obtaining a prescription for an extended maintenance drug supply
If you need prescriptions for a longer period than available through a vacation override, you should consider asking your prescribing doctor for a 90-day prescription for your medications and you can use your plan’s 90-day mail order option – assuming a 90-day prescription satisfies any usage management restrictions (such as prior authorization (PA) or quantity limit (QL) restrictions).

Can you purchase medications abroad and ask your Medicare Part D plan for reimbursement?
You can always ask, but ...  If you are traveling and need medications you can always purchase the medications yourself, save the receipts and ask your Medicare Part D plan for reimbursement when you return - although your plan may likely deny the reimbursement request.

Check your Medicare Part D plan's Evidence of Coverage (EOC) document for more about using a non-network pharmacy and you may find text such as " [The Medicare plan] cannot pay for any stolen medications or prescriptions that are filled by pharmacies outside the United States and territories, even for a medical emergency, for example on a cruise ship." (see your EOC Chapter 3, Section 2.5) 

Purchasing International Travel Insurance
As noted, another solution to long-term international drug coverage would be to purchase separate foreign travel insurance that includes prescription coverage.  For more information, you can contact a specialized insurance company such as Petersen International Underwriters (https://www.piu.org/health-insurance) or International Medical Group (https://www.imglobal.com).

Important: Remember to travel with any prescription (or healthcare) documentation so that you can have prescriptions filled when you are outside of the United States.

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Tips & Disclaimers
  • The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan data on our site comes directly from Medicare and is subject to change.
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  • The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan.
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  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
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  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
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  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.