Now that winter has arrived in Ontario, Canadians are forging ahead with their preparations for travelling south.
An estimated one million Canadians escape the cold every year by heading south for extended periods of time. While Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California are popular snowbird destinations, Canadians own more than 500,000 properties in Florida alone and 700,000 spend at least 31 days in the ‘Sunshine State’ every year. (National Post, March 2, 2017)
Regardless of the length of stay outside Canada or the actual destination, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) only covers a limited amount of the costs associated with emergency health services and strongly recommends an additional private medical policy.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of Canadians being saddled with enormous bills to cover the cost of unexpected hospital stays, especially in the U.S. These situations can be avoided with effective and comprehensive plans from brokers who understand the intricacies of policies. Newman Insurance has travel coverage specifically tailored to snowbirds and works with clients to ensure that there is no confusion about the details.
There’s little doubt that travel insurance can be complex since many factors are incorporated into the fine print. Age… length of stay… pre-existing medical conditions… what kind of care is covered and what’s excluded… All of these limitations are defined in every medical travel insurance policy whether purchased online, provided in employment benefit packages, or from credit card companies used to pay for tickets. No matter how these options are promoted as more convenient, accessible and affordable, there will no doubt be gaps in coverage depending on how long you’re travelling and your current (and past) medical condition.
The legalese can be complicated and no one policy fits all snowbirds. Blanket travel insurance generally covers younger people with fewer medical conditions who travel less often and for shorter periods of time. Snowbird travel insurance focuses on covering medical expenses related to seniors who suffer an injury or illness that can’t wait for a return trip to Canada to be treated.
Your Newman account rep can walk you through the steps of how to prepare your medical coverage long before you head south, but the first thing to do is update your Ontario health card. Is it still valid and will it remain valid while you are out of the country? Is your name and birthdate on the card correct? Does ServiceOntario have your current address and other contact information on file?
OHIP has what’s called the ‘Out-of-Country Travellers Program’, which covers part of doctor services, and emergency inpatient and outpatient services. There are limits to qualify (amount of time living in Ontario compared to amount of time away) and the treatment must be medically necessary and provided at a licensed facility. Further, the illness, disease, condition, or injury must be treated immediately due to the fact it is acute and unexpected, and not stem from a pre-existing condition.
In simple terms, OHIP is not intended to cover medical services outside of Ontario. You will be reimbursed $50 a day for an outpatient emergency room visit. That’s it. You’re responsible to cover any difference. If you check the North Florida Regional Medical Center website, as an example, you will see that the costs of outpatient diagnostic bone x-rays ($270-$343), diagnostic MRIs ($848-$1,272), and diagnostic CAT scans ($1,881-$3,326) far exceed what OHIP will cover.
The quality of care and the costs of hospitalization can vary greatly from one country to the next. Without the best travel insurance to meet your needs, your family is at risk of facing a financial crisis.
Snowbird Travel Insurance from Newman Insurance will give you peace of mind to travel and enjoy your time away without worrying about possible emergency medical procedures and the associated costs. 24/7 emergency help is a phone call away. We offer single and multi-trip options that correspond to your current state of health and the stability of pre-existing conditions. Your account rep will take the time to go over all the details and recommend the best policy for you at the lowest price.