If you’re planning a vacation out of the country next year, add one more item to your to-do list: Rethinking your emergency travel insurance coverage. Why? Because starting on January 1, 2020, Ontario will cut the travel insurance coverage that’s currently available to Canadians travelling abroad. Read on to learn how changes to OHIP coverage for out-of-country Ontario travelers may affect your plans… and review the steps you can take to protect yourself while you’re on the road.

Out-of-Country Emergency Health Care Coverage

For years, OHIP travel insurance has offered Canadian travellers coverage in case of a medical emergency abroad. Currently, OHIP covers up to $400 per day in the case of emergency in-patient treatment, and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services. In countries where medical costs remain low, OHIP coverage is often adequate to cover costs of medical treatment.

However, in countries such as the U.S. where healthcare is extremely expensive, OHIP coverage barely makes a dent. There, medical costs are about twice as much those in other industrialized countries. For instance, fixing a broken leg comes with a hefty price tag of up to $10,000 CAD, while a hospital stay can run more than $13,000 CAD per day.

Given these prices, it’s easy to see why OHIP coverage already fell short of providing comprehensive protection for Canadians abroad. In fact, that’s a large part of why the program is being cut.

Insurance industry studies indicate that almost 35 percent of Canadians don’t purchase travel insurance, due to the (false) belief that OHIP has them covered. This false sense of security has led some PC legislators to pan the program.

The program’s cost is also an issue. According to the CBC, OHIP costs about $9 million per year.

Despite the expense, OHIP only covers about 5 percent of travellers’ urgent health care costs. After the New Year, even this minimal coverage will be gone.

How Canadian Travelers Can Protect Themselves

Nothing ruins a trip faster than getting stuck with a medical bill for tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, such a scenario is all too common.

So…what can you do to ensure that the discontinuation of OHIP coverage for out-of-country Ontario travelers doesn’t ruin your trip?

The key lies in purchasing travel insurance before you go. Whether you’re heading to the beach for relaxation, the mountains for exploration and adventure, or the city for shopping and dining, travel insurance will allow you to travel with confidence.

Policies that offer features such as 24/7 assistance, pre-existing condition coverage, and emergency medical coverage will provide you with peace of mind — and the protection you need. Look for a travel insurance policy that offers protection from excessive medical bills as the costs of prescriptions, doctor’s visits, hospital stays, ambulance rides, and more add up quickly.

Experiencing a medical emergency when you’re away from home is no fun… and traveling without adequate coverage exposes you to unnecessary risk. We urge you to protect yourself and your trip in the new year with comprehensive travel insurance coverage.

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