Most Canadians take at least one trip a year to another Canadian province to visit friends, family, or on business. Over and over again, we see the common misconception that Canadians are covered for all medical expenses while travelling within Canada. However, the fact remains that Canadians travelling out of their province of residence are not necessarily 100% covered by their provincial Government Health Insurance Plan (GHIP).
Travellers that are travelling outside of their country are better understanding the high costs of international health care, but confusion remains for Canadians travelling from province to province. Consider Amy Savill, an Alberta resident, who learned the hard way. This month, the 7-months pregnant Albertan was visiting family in Northern Ontario when her water broke. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, which, due to limited local resources, was unable to deliver a baby under 32 weeks. The only option was to airlift Savill to the nearest city centre in Sudbury, Ontario, where Savill gave birth to a 3 lbs baby girl.
Like most Canadians, Savill believed she was covered for all medical expenses incurred throughout this emergency—Savill even had out-of-province insurance provided through her employment insurance plan. Here’s where it gets tricky: health care is covered from province to province but Alberta does not cover emergency ambulance services and neither did her employment insurance plan. After Savill delivered her baby safely, she was presented with not only a birth certificate but also an air ambulance bill for thousands of dollars.
“Canadians are not covered for services that are not covered in their home province, which may include land or air ambulance services. Since all health care providers are private, they can request payment for the services received outside their province but within Canada”, explains Robin Ingle, Chairman and CEO of Ingle International, a travel and health insurance company that offers specialized insurance solutions for worldwide travellers.
If Canadians travelling out-of-province are looking for more coverage for additional non-medical items such as trip cancellation and interruption, baggage insurance, and accidental death, they should consider all-inclusive plans. But for simple medical coverage, travellers can pay as little as $0.57 per day—and avoid Amy Savill’situation and potentially astronomical medical bills.
With the large difference in currency rates between Canada and the USA, Ingle anticipates that more Canadians will be travelling within Canada. “Canadians need to know that there is a risk when travelling outside of their province and that travel insurance is an affordable solution to cover gaps in the social health care system. All major travel insurance plans provide coverage for air and land ambulance costs, as well as protection from trip cancellation, trip interruption, and accidents.”
Planning a trip? Check out your travel insurance options.