Visitors to Ontario and travellers: be insured!

Medical treatment

Every visitor to Ontario needs supplementary medical coverage. Every traveller abroad, especially to the USA, needs third-party medical insurance coverage.

It is time to repeat my message on travel insurance as we enjoy the summer 2016 peak vacation travel season. If you are travelling, or receiving friends or family from outside Canada, get travel insurance for yourself or the visitor. In the past three years, we did not have a single unfortunate incident in which a distraught constituent visits us with either of these two completely preventable crises:

  1. A family visitor, usually an elderly relative, has come to Ontario to visit, taken ill and received both fantastic medical coverage, and a big medical bill which is not covered by OHIP, leaving their host liable for tens of thousands in costs;
  2. An Ontario resident has gone abroad, especially to the United States, required medical treatment and received a shocking bill only to discover that OHIP will not cover all of it, leaving the family liable for many thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Sadly, there is little, if anything, we can do for the families of foreign nationals who require medical treatment while visiting here in Ontario. It is not a risk worth taking.

When friends or family visit you from another country:

Unless your visiting family members have supplementary health insurance coverage, you are liable for their medical bills while in Ontario.

  • When you have a family member, including a spouse who does not live in Ontario, visiting you from another country, even the USA, those family members absolutely need supplementary medical insurance while visiting you in Ontario. OHIP will not cover them, as they are not residents of Ontario, even though they are related to you;
  • If you face medical bills for a relative who does not have OHIP coverage (i.e. doesn’t live in Ontario), those bills will be paid by you, or by any other insurance coverage you may carry, or by your family, and not by OHIP. Don’t risk the financial security you have spent a lifetime building for the lack of insurance coverage that may cost as little as a cup of coffee per day;
  • Your visitors’ insurance should begin the day they leave their country of origin for Ontario, and cover the time period until they complete their visit, and arrive back home in their country of origin. While you can arrange third-party medical coverage while in Canada, it may be a better idea for your visitors to carry insurance coverage from their country of origin. Circumstances may vary. Ask your insurance carrier, your bank, the Canadian Automobile Association, or contact Blue Cross.

When you travel abroad, especially to the USA:

When you travel abroad, or your family members who are residents in Ontario travel abroad, you should always carry supplementary travel insurance. OHIP does cover some costs, but not normally all the costs  incurred, when you require medical attention in another province, and especially the United States.

  • When you travel abroad, even to the United States, even if for only a day, take a few minutes, and stop into your bank, your insurance company or broker, the Canadian Automobile Association, or contact Blue Cross, and get supplementary travel insurance for your journey;
  • OHIP coverage when you are outside Ontario is limited to the amounts OHIP would pay if you were treated inside Ontario. In 99 percent of OHIP reimbursements for medical expenses incurred outside Ontario, the amount paid is less than $5,000. In the USA, it is not unusual to receive a bill for upwards of $50,000 for treatment. OHIP would likely cover you for only about $3,000 of that amount. OHIP’s average claim for out-of-province medical expenses is only about $4,760;
  • Your insurance should begin the day you leave Ontario, and cover the time period until you complete the journey and set foot back home in Ontario.

Nobody needs a family medical crisis

Please forward this posting to everybody you know who may be travelling on vacation abroad, or receiving family members from outside Ontario.


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