With the low Canadian dollar, the cost of international travel has significantly increased for Canadians. As a result, domestic travel from province to province is becoming a more attractive option for Canadians.
Canadians are fortunate to have provincial Government Health Insurance Plans, but the gaps in health care when travelling province to province is still widely misunderstood. The Canada Health Act guarantees Canadians universal coverage throughout Canada, however “additional benefits” (e.g. prescription drugs, ground and air ambulance services) that provinces and territories may include under their respective health insurance plans, are generally not portable outside your province/territory of residence.
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid, 50% of Canadians travelling in Canada still do not have travel insurance. The emergency involving Amy Savill, a 7-months pregnant Albertan resident, visiting family in Northern Ontario, is a recent example of how far Canadians still need to come in understanding the medical costs when travelling outside of their province of residence. When Savill’s water broke two months before her delivery date, 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 she gave birth to a 3 lbs baby girl.
Like most Canadians, Savill believed she was covered for all medical expenses incurred throughout this emergency—she even had out-of-province insurance provided through her employment insurance plan. However, Alberta does not cover emergency ambulance services outside of the province, and neither did her employment insurance plan. After Savill delivered her baby safely, she was presented not only with a birth certificate but also a transportation bill amounting to approximately $30,000.
Here are 3 tips every Canadian should know when travelling province to province:
1. Get travel insurance – Travel insurance provides travellers with the additional medical services they need, including air evacuation and ground ambulance. Plans are available for as low as 0.57 cents a day with limited restrictions for pre-existing or chronic medical conditions.
2. Talk to your employer – If you have insurance through your employer, talk to your HR representative or benefits administrator to find out which services are covered. A vast majority of Canadians have an employee benefits plan; however, many employees do not understand or know about their coverage.
3. Be a smart consumer – It’s your money and it’s your health, so don’t be afraid to ask your insurance company, insurance agent, or broker questions about your coverage or coverage options.