As Canadians, we often take for granted how much travel coverage outside of Canada 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 out-of-country, provincial health care coverage pays for less than 10% of the total expenses?

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. Check out what some provinces cover for these types of medical expenses:

ProvinceProvincial Healthcare PlanER Fees & Inpatient Coverage Radiology & Lab Work Coverage
BCBC Medical Services Plan (MSP)• ER: $0
• $75/day
• Radiology: $14 (X-ray) to $662 (MRI)

• Lab work: $4 to $7 per item
ABAlberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)• ER: $50
• $100/day
• Radiology: $8 (X-ray) to $480 (MRI)

• Lab work: $5 to $325 per item
SKSaskatchewan Health Coverage• ER: $50
• $100/day
• Radiology: $14 (X-ray) to $65 (MRI)

• Lab work: $5 to $10 per item
ONOntario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)• ER: $50
• $200-400/day
• Radiology: $7 (X-ray) to $500 (MRI)

• Lab work: $3 to $12 per item
QCThe Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ)• $100/day• Radiology: $50 (X-ray) to $100 (MRI)

And while provincial healthcare abroad has some coverage, this real-life example demonstrates how little it actually covers:

Ambulance racing to hospital
Ambulance rides and other medical services are often not covered by provincial healthcare plans.

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 up 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. Luckily, James bought emergency medical travel insurance before he left, since his provincial medical only covered 2.5% of his entire claim!

Hospital fees: $362,027.66
Doctor fees: $56,007.14
Radiology: $7,140.28
Ambulance: $10,253.67
Air evacuation: $10,884.38
Amount covered by Provincial Healthcare: $10,619.32
Amount covered by TuGo: $435,693.81

With all that in mind, it’s easy to see the value of emergency medical travel insurance. Services that Canadians often take for granted can cost thousands of dollars out-of-pocket when travelling outside Canada!

As always, it’s best to check in with your local insurance broker; also, be sure to review your policy to understand the coverage you’ve purchased. And for you snowbird or long-term travel readers, find out how long you can stay out-of-province but stay eligible for provincial healthcare benefits.

Happy travels,


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