On January 1, 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Health terminates its “Out Of Country” (OOC) coverage for residents. While that sounds scary, it doesn’t have to be! We dug into the changes and have determined 5 key things that Ontarians need to know.
1. If you travel outside of Canada, you’ll need travel insurance to cover you in case of unexpected medical emergencies or accidents.
- We Canadians assume our provincial health care has us covered, which is barely the case. Generally, these plans actually cover less than 10% of the total medical bill! For Ontario residents, that percentage will decrease to 0% by 2020.
- If you don’t already have private travel insurance, an employee group health plan, or credit card coverage, you’ll need to buy travel insurance to ensure you’re taken care of.
- This is especially important if you’re a mature traveller with a pre-existing condition, or an adventurer travelling to the extreme!
2. If you’re already looking to buy travel insurance, your eligibility won’t be impacted by the OHIP changes.
Ontarians don’t have to worry; while TuGo’s Traveller policy wording has an exclusion that won’t cover “any eligible medical and related expenses in excess of $50,000, if you are not covered by a provincial or territorial government health care plan at the time of your claim”, this exclusion doesn’t apply if you’re looking to buy or stay covered. You’ll still have provincial health care in place within Canada, just not outside of it. That said, all Canadians must be aware of how long they’re allowed to be abroad without it impacting provincial health care benefits.
3. If you have a travel emergency on or before December 31, 2019, you can still submit it for reimbursement.
The Ontario Ministry of Health will reimburse eligible claims (under the existing criteria) for travel emergency services until the end of the year. The timeframe to submit claims hasn’t changed from 12 months from the date of service, so eligible claims can be submitted up to December 31, 2020.
4. Kidney patients can enjoy travel too and get coverage if an unexpected medical emergency does happen.
The Ontario Renal Network will operate a new accessibility program for hemodialysis patients travelling outside of Canada, starting January 1, 2020.
And if you have TuGo® Travel Insurance, medical emergencies continue to be covered for kidney patients travelling abroad.
5. Travel within Canada is still covered by OHIP.
If you travel outside of Ontario and have a medical emergency, OHIP must still cover your most basic medical expenses; that’s because the Canadian Health Care Act defines the health care policy of the country, listing the criteria for provinces to receive funding. Portability is one of its 5 principles stipulating provinces and territories must extend medically necessary medical coverage to their residents during temporary absences. The provinces share bilateral agreements that allow Canadians to travel away from their home province and retain their public health care insurance coverage.
No matter which province you’re from, always travel protected. I hope these points have been helpful; if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below!