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Canada OHIP ending coverage for travellers to other countries

18:05  04 december  2019
18:05  04 december  2019 Source:   windsorstar.com

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The Ontario government is proposing to end OHIP coverage for Canadians travelling outside of the country . The parliamentary assistant to Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that the government is reviewing OHIP ’s Out-of- Country Travellers Program as part of efforts to address the

Under the current OHIP Out-Of- Country Traveller 's Program (OOC), Ontarians are allowed coverage of inpatient services of up to 0 per day for a high level of care (meaning an ICU or operational surgery) The new policy will not affect coverage when travelling to other provinces within Canada.

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Coverage was always minimal at best, but Canadian travellers to the U.S. and other nations should be made aware the Ontario government is ending its “out-of-country travellers” program under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) starting on Jan. 1.

“The program, which spends a third of its funding on administration alone, has not historically provided Ontarians with meaningful travel coverage,” said David Jensen, spokesman for Ontario’s health ministry. “Furthermore, the program’s coverage is very limited with five cents of every dollar claimed.”

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The Ontario Health Insurance Program ( OHIP ) only ends up covering an average of five per cent of travellers ' medical costs, the proposal says. Ontarians travelling in other parts of Canada will continue to have coverage , the Ministry's proposal says, but those leaving the country should get

Changes to OHIP means no emergency health coverage abroad. 31, the only treatment the new plan will cover is 0 per treatment for kidney dialysis patients, which can cost up to 0 a day in the U.S. All other medical coverage outside of the country is up to the traveller to cover out of pocket.

A majority of local travellers, especially to the U.S., are often covered by private company insurance — often under a credit card company.

Should an injury or emergency occur that requires medical or hospital care, the traveller would file a claim with OHIP that’s already been paid by the private medical coverage, insurance plans or Canadian resident themselves.

OHIP then would determine under its out-of-country plan who or what to reimburse, if anything.

Under the program, OHIP only considered emergency health services which included a physician’s assessment, emergency surgery, tests such as MRIs. or CT scans and hospital stays.

Treatments had to be deemed medically necessary, take place at a hospital or equivalent medical facility and be for an acute illness or situation that was unexpected and no pre-existing before leaving Canada.

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The Ford government is proposing to end OHIP coverage for Ontarians when they travel outside of Canada, saying The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care says the change will result in “a small increase” to travel insurance premiums charged to travellers and some “one-time transitional costs.”

At issue is not general OHIP coverage but the Out-of- Country Travellers Program, which covers acute and unexpected medical emergencies. By comparison, the province spends .2 million to administer more than 0 million in claims for treatment in other provinces or for out-of- country

OHIP would pay up to $50 per day for outpatient services and up to $400 per day for any hospital inpatient service that took place in an operating room, intensive care unit or coronary care unit. Such coverage is often only a fraction of costs, especially in the U.S.

“With this limited coverage and low reimbursement rate, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically bills to pay,” Jensen said.

“For this reason, Ontario continues to strongly encourage individuals to purchase additional travel health insurance so they are adequately covered every time they leave Ontario to travel abroad.”

On a positive note, the health ministry has also announced a new program will begin at the start of the year to cover costs for Ontario residents travelling outside of Canada for prolonged periods and require dialysis treatments.

“Our government listened to the Ontarians on dialysis who can’t easily access affordable travel insurance about the need to preserve and protect their ability to safely travel and work abroad,” Jensen said.

“A new program to fund out-of-country dialysis services will ensure hemodialysis patients can plan their trips abroad confident in the knowledge that they’ll be able to access the medically necessary services they rely on.”

The new program will be operated by the Ontario Renal Network with funding from the government so that patients will receive the same reimbursement rates currently provided through existing programs, he said.

dbattagello@postmedia.com

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