KENORA – Be prepared when traveling out of province. For many in our region, trips to Manitoba or Minnesota are common. Whether it’s a day trip to go shopping, a sports tournament, or a few days out of town visiting friends or family, the proximity of these locations make us sometimes forget that we’re leaving Ontario.
While more often than not the trip will proceed without any hiccups, it is important for those making the journey to be aware that many healthcare costs, such as examinations at public hospitals or ambulance services, may not be covered by OHIP automatically, or in some cases, at all.
Nobody plans to slip on ice, or suffer a medical problem while out of the province, but when those unexpected events do occur it can be a pricey problem without private medical coverage.
Generally, when traveling out of province, OHIP will only cover expenses directly related to physician and hospital services, and even those services may not be covered up front, leaving a person to pay substantial sums out of pocket. Other costs, such as a trip in an ambulance, will not be covered at all.
While an ambulance ride in Ontario may cost you about $75, those rates are for Ontario residents and the costs for someone from another province vary significantly. For instance, it is not uncommon for an ambulance ride in Winnipeg to cost $700 or more, even if the ride is only a spans a couple of blocks. It’s easy to see how low-cost private insurance may not be a bad investment after all.
When it comes to traveling out of country, even if it is just for an afternoon, private health insurance is highly recommended.
While OHIP may cover some costs in the United States or other countries, this coverage is extremely limited and subject to very tight restrictions, meaning that even if some care is covered you almost certainly will be on the hook for some expenses. Since the United States is a wholly privatized system these costs can vary significantly from one institution to another. What these healthcare institutions have in common, is that many procedures can be very costly, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, and many hospitals require payment at the time of service.
When traveling out of province, there are many low-cost travel insurance options available. Before you shop around, you might want to start with checking what’s in your wallet. Some credit cards offer this coverage to their users, and you may be able to save yourself some money and time by taking advantage of the coverage you already have.
No one intends to take ill while being away from home and many do not anticipate out-of-pocket healthcare expenses if treated in another Canadian province. The truth is, without getting prior approval for medical procedures in another province, you may find yourself in a tight spot. It is best to prepare for the unexpected to save yourself some worry.
Sarah Campbell MPP