Currently while travelling, Ontarians can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they have some health coverage if anything were to happen. Unfortunately, that peace of mind is now in jeopardy. A new Ontario Government proposal would completely cut OHIP for travellers who run into unexpected medical emergencies while abroad.
According to the proposal, "the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (ministry) is proposing to amend Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act (HIA) to end the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) coverage for emergency services (arising while outside the country) for Ontarians travelling outside of Canada."
Currently, that regulation provides travellers with up to $400/day if they require medical care while travelling outside of Canada. The exact reimbursement thresholds are:
- up to $400/day for operations, ICU stays, or other higher levels of care
- up to $200/day for any other level of care
- $50/day for outpatient services
- $210 for renal dialysis
However, with this latest proposal, all of that funding would be cut. This means anyone who is travelling will have no coverage unless they buy their own private travel insurance, which has varying costs depending on where you are going and the level of coverage you buy. According to the government, 90% of Ontarians buy travel insurance.
That is one of the reasons the Ontario Government has made this proposal. According to the release, "this change will have no impact on 99.5% of Ontarians. OHIP data suggests, of those 40,000 Ontarians who do travel outside of Canada each year and require health services, over 90% obtain private travel health insurance."
However, if you don't get traveller's insurance and something does come up, you could be in serious trouble, which the government outlines in their proposal as well.
They say, "OHIP-eligible persons who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay because of OOC [out-of-country] emergency medical care."
The government says the proposed amendment is meant to "restore accountability and trust in the use of taxpayer dollars and to bring greater modernization, efficiency and transparency to OHIP to benefit both providers and patients. "
If approved, the OHIP coverage for international travellers would no longer be provided as of October 1, 2019. Ontarians travelling to other provinces would still receive coverage.