If you get sick while travelling within Canada, it’s generally pretty easy to receive immediate medical attention without having to foot the bill. The reason is that all of the provinces and territories, except Quebec, signed an Interprovincial Billing Agreement under which the host province agrees to cover the cost of any medically necessary service provided and subsequently bill the home province for reimbursement.
That being said, there are certain differences to your coverage when you travel outside of your home province. Understanding these differences can help you avoid having to pay unnecessary expenses.
What is and isn’t covered out of province?
In accordance with the Canada Health Act, medically necessary health care services are typically covered when travelling within Canada. In other words, if you become ill or have an accident in another province, your hospital and physician services will likely be covered. However, additional services, such as an ambulance, hospital transfer, or transportation back to your home province, will not be covered. If you have access to private group insurance (e.g., through your employer), check to find out whether you have coverage through your plan. If you want to avoid paying for these services out of pocket, you may want to consider purchasing medical insurance through a private insurance company.
Since Quebec did not sign the interprovincial billing agreement, you will likely be charged up front for any medical services you receive there. In most cases, you can submit a claim for reimbursement to your own provincial ministry of health when you get home. Keep in mind that your provincial ministry may require specific documentation like receipts for services. You may want to contact your home province for more information. Because the cost of medical services varies in each province, you may have to pay the difference in cost. Although Quebec does not participate in the interprovincial billing agreement, Quebec residents who get sick while visiting another province will likely be covered for hospital and physician services. However, a doctor can ask that you pay up front for care. It is your responsibility to submit your receipts to the Régie upon returning to Quebec, at which time the Régie will reimburse applicable services at Quebec rates.
What should I bring when travelling within Canada?
You should have your provincial health card with you at all times when you are travelling—you will need to show it. Your health card is your proof that you are insured under a provincial plan. If you don’t show your card, the doctor’s office may ask you to pay up front for the services. If this happens, you may still get reimbursed by your province of residence. Just remember to keep an original copy of the receipt and proof of payment in case your province asks for them. All provinces and territories have their own requirements; in some cases, you may have to fill out supporting documents as well.
For more information on out-of-province coverage, contact your provincial or territorial ministry of health. Or consult Health Canada’s most frequently asked travel health questions.
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