As Canadians, we often take for granted how much health care really costs because we’re fortunate to have provincial health care plans. But did you know that if a medical emergency happens when you’re travelling outside Canada, provincial health care coverage pays for less than 10% of the total cost? Many service costs like ER fees, ambulance rides, air evacuations and prescription drugs are not covered at all, while radiology and lab charges are only minimally covered.

Yellow ambulance taking a traveller who had a medical emergency to hospital while travelling
North West Ambulance Service’s A009, PX55 DHV, (1) by Ray Forster is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

For example, if you’re from…

  • BC, MSP covers $75 per day for inpatient costs
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan, provincial health care plans cover $100 per day for inpatient costs
  • Ontario and Quebec, provincial health care plans cover $200-400 per day for inpatient costs
Ambulance parked in the center of a city street.
Ambulance by Bradhoc is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Here’s a real life example that helps to understand the importance of travel medical insurance:

48-year-old James travelled to Montana. He suffered a massive headache and lost consciousness. A brain aneurysm ruptured causing massive bleeding and required surgery. To speed his recovery, he was put into a medically-induced coma. After 22 days and a second surgery, James was stable. He was then air evacuated back to Canada.

Driving behind ambulance while a patient is being taken to hospital due to a medical emergency.
Ambulance Run by Paul Swansen is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Hospital fees: $362,027.66

Doctor fees: $56,007.14

Radiology fees: $7,140.28

Ambulance: $10,253.67

Air evacuation: $10,884.38

Total cost: $446,313

James’ provincial healthcare coverage only contributed $10,619.32—just 2.5% of the claim total!

Amount covered by TuGo Travel Insurance: $435,693.81

As you can see costs add up quickly, especially in the US! You can also read more about Why Canadians Shopping in the US Need Emergency Medical Travel Insurance.

As always, it’s best to check in with your insurance broker to find out what your emergency medical travel insurance covers you for while away from home.

Safe travels,

Melissa

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