Starting January 2020, residents of the province of Ontario no longer enjoy health insurance under the state-funded OHIP out-of-country-travelers program. The program will now only cover travelers’ dialysis costs, though still largely insufficient. OHIP coverage outside Ontario but within Canada remains unchanged.
The province of Ontario cites unsustainable administrative costs for the reasons for the funding withdrawal. Only two-thirds of the fund’s budget reportedly went to actual claims while the rest was gobbled up by claims processing, which was mostly manual. As a result, the government says, the OHIP out-of-country travel insurance program didn’t provide the value originally envisaged.
The loss of OHIP travel insurance coverage means Canadians planning a winter trek to the warmer South will have to reevaluate their travel insurance needs. For Ontarians traveling to the USA, where medical expenses are the highest in the world and which is Canadians’ most popular travel destination, OHIP’s coverage was barely sufficient anyway.
The True Cost Of OHIP Out-Of-Country Travel Health Insurance Changes
It is widely agreed that OHIP medical emergency coverage for Canadians traveling beyond the country’s borders was insufficient even when traveling to countries where healthcare is cheaper. OHIP guaranteed only 400 CAD and 50 CAD a day for in-patient and outpatient medical care respectively.
In real terms, even with OHIP coverage, Canadians traveling outside the country will have needed extra travel insurance to fully cover their medical emergencies on their foreign trips. While that coverage was never sufficient, it was still significant for lower-income groups, like students and the elderly who now have to buy travel insurance from private funders before setting off on a trip outside the country.
An unwanted consequence of the OHIP out-of-country changes is the expected hike in travel insurance premiums. Prices for travel insurance premiums from some insurers have already shot up as these companies brace up to cover the created funding gap.
OHIP Out-Of-Country Travel Insurance Cut Is Particularly Depressing News For Seniors
Among the people who will be hit hardest by the OHIP, changes are the retired, elderly people, who are among the most frequent travelers. According to statistics, in Ontario, 40 percent of people aged 65 traveled outside the country last year. This constitutes a massive market of people who must now have to fork out more money in travel health insurance to guarantee stress-free trips.
To make matters worse, even at their healthiest, older people generally pay more in travel insurance premiums. The implication of the OHIP out-of-country travel insurance cancellation will be that senior travelers will incur the sharpest rise in the cost of premiums. The Snowbirds, a group that represents the rights of traveling Canadians has already launched a court challenge seeking judicial review of the OHIP changes.
Many elderly people, who are among the more economically disadvantaged groups of the population and many of whom consider their winter travel plans to be important for their quality of life may now be priced out of good quality healthcare on their travels.
What Are The Options Post OHIP Out-Of-Country Travel Insurance Cancellation?
It is hard to find any silver lining to OHIP’s withdrawal of travel insurance for Ontarians taking trips outside Canada. If anything, the changes to OHIP that have kicked in this new year will force people in the province to look more realistically at their travel insurance needs.
Before the withdrawal OHIP coverage for out-of-country travel, many people were under the false impression they had adequate travel insurance. The travel insurance offered under OHIP fell far short and the government itself encouraged people to purchase additional insurance.
It’s Never Been More Important To Shop Around
While raising the cost of private travel insurance, the OHIP out-of-country coverage will finally force consumers into an honest discussion on the importance of private health insurance in general. The fear that the latest changes to OHIP will lead to a hike in the price of travel insurance premiums has already been realized.
But despite the higher cost, travelers may as a consequence get more comprehensive coverage that will give them more protection. The same higher premiums should also stress the importance of shopping around and comparing quotes for the best travel insurance policies.
The search for a new travel insurance policy should look beyond the price of the premium and consider the small print. Precisely, it should look at the deductibles and exclusions that come with different plans.
For example, some premiums that may appear cheaper may exclude coverage for certain destinations and for the more riskier pastimes people partake in while on holiday, like bungee jumping and zip lines rides over canyons and mountain passes. Also, ask questions on how comprehensive the policy is and whether it is renewable while outside the country.
Who To Turn To For More Affordable Travel Insurance
We advise working with a good insurance broker who will review travel insurance plans from different insurers. A knowledgeable and experienced insurance broker will ensure that you provide all the information on the state of your health as well the details of your trip, not only to get the cheapest insurance quote possible but to also ensure you have adequate coverage on your trip.
Many travelers in Toronto have trusted the highly experienced team of brokers at Able Elite Team with their travel insurance needs. We will help you find the best travel insurance deals in Ontario. Contact us here for a free consultation.