Health Insurance for Travelers
Many Canadians hold medical insurance through their company benefits
packages. But few have ever actually read the fine print on those
policies. When you travel out of the province or out of the country, you
ought to know how your package will cover you and your family.
Read the policy
Start by digging out that little booklet about benefits you got when you
joined the company. Similarly, if you have out-of-country medical
insurance through your "gold" credit card, union contract, professional
organization, or other sources, you should study the terms of the plan.
You want to know who is covered, for how long, and what restrictions
apply. Some plans have a toll-free number for information, or you may be
able to find out more through your company's benefits department. Some
group plans have comprehensive out-of-country coverage. Others may not
cover everything you need, so you might consider buying a supplementary
travel medical plan. If you are self-employed, or not covered at all by
a plan, you definitely should buy protection before you travel.
Why you need coverage
Remember your provincial health plan will only pay a fraction of the
cost of a stay in a U.S. or other foreign hospital. Two nights in a U.
S. hospital can cost over $10,000. If a patient needs surgery, air
evacuation, and other assistance, the health care bill could quickly
climb to over $100,000. Even if you are traveling to another province
within Canada, your provincial insurance plan won't pay all your medical
expenses. A travel plan will cover the cost of an ambulance or air
ambulance to return you home, or the cost of emergency prescriptions.
How are pre-existing conditions
It's important to study the details of coverage for pre-existing
conditions. Many plans will not cover you for any illness treated or
diagnosed before you left the country. Having a heart condition or being
pregnant doesn't mean you are uninsurable, but you may have to pay extra
for a more comprehensive policy. Arranging a proper policy will take
time and expert advice but, as a person with a pre-existing condition,
you need insurance more than many other travelers. You may also have to
pay more if you are traveling to a "high risk" destination, or are
planning to participate in sports such as mountain climbing or scuba
diving. If you think you need coverage over and above what you currently
have, consult an insurance advisor who is a member of the Canadian
Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. If you travel
frequently, an annual plan can be cheaper than covering individual
trips. Many plans come bundled with extras like flight cancellation or
baggage insurance. But be careful ĘC each new option adds to your cost.
Ask these questions:
How long are you covered for?
Is everyone in your family covered?
What is the limit on health costs per person?
Is there a deductible that you must pay?
Will the plan transport you home for treatment?
Will you be covered if you take part in dangerous
Does the plan cover treatment for pre-existing
conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes?
What is the procedure if you do become ill?
Please contact me for more