In 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Health reinstated OHIP coverage for out-of-country emergency hospital, health facility and doctor services.

Even so, the Ontario government recommends that you buy travel health insurance coverage in case you need emergency health services while you are out of the country.

You should not rely only on OHIP coverage to take care of the cost of medical care if you have an accident or illness while you are travelling. Here’s why.

You have limited out-of-country health service coverage with OHIP

OHIP will only cover very limited costs if you receive emergency health services while you’re travelling outside Canada for

  • medical assessments or emergency surgery services
  • outpatient services like x-rays or CT scans
  • inpatient services like room-and-board hospital stays and nursing services.

If you incur expenses, you must pay the provider yourself, up front. The out-of-country program only reimburses you for between $200 and $400 per day for emergency inpatient services (meaning an ICU or operational surgery) and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services.

When you are out of the country, OHIP does not cover you for

  • ambulance services (by land, water or air) needed to transport you if you are sick or injured to and from places of treatment
  • prescriptions for things like painkillers and antibiotics
  • the full cost of doctor services, outpatient services or inpatient services.

You need travel insurance

If you have a medical emergency when you are out of the country visiting family, on business or on vacation, you will be faced with paying the cost of care — regardless of the severity of your situation.

Even one simple outpatient visit to a U.S. emergency room may cost thousands of dollars. Here are some examples that may surprise you.

Needing to pay out of pocket for hospital and doctors’ charges in other countries (not only the U.S.) can be a dire result of becoming ill or suffering an accident while away from home. That’s why travelling uninsured is a risk you don’t want to take.

What kind of travel insurance do you need?

Ontarians travelling abroad are always encouraged to purchase the appropriate travel insurance coverage — but what does that mean? The first thing to understand is that all coverage is not equal.

Even if you have some travel health insurance through your workplace plan or credit cards, the first step is to take the time to review and understand any requirements, conditions and exclusions. Does it cover you for the duration of your trip (especially if you plan on being away for over a week)? Does it cover emergency medical needs, or only trip cancellation and baggage loss?

Get the details! Smart travellers ensure that their travel insurance covers

  • hospitalization or doctor visits while abroad
  • ambulance service, including land, water or air transportation to and from places of treatment for an illness or injury
  • medical evacuation to a nearby facility that can provide appropriate care or  return you to Canada, as well as the cost of a medical escort
  • their age and health status
  • preparation of your remains and repatriation to Canada in case of death.

How do you get the travel insurance you need?

If your doctor agrees that you can travel, SBIS offers a wide range of travel insurance options that are suitable and varied enough to cover you. And there are even options that do not require you to provide detailed health information.

We can help you put in place coverage that fits both your budget and your needs based on your age, medical history, the medications you take, your travel destination, your lifestyle and how frequently you travel.

Be prepared: insure every out-of-country trip

Travel insurance can help make sure the financial elements of a vacation emergency are under control, so you can focus on family, friends, fun, and the experience.

At SBIS, we cover Ontarians (and all Canadian travellers) with travel medical insurance and trip interruption or cancellation and loss of baggage coverage. To put your travel insurance plan in place, start by going online, get in touch with us by email or give us a call at 1-800-667-0429 Monday to Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET. Contact us today to learn more about your travel insurance coverage options. We’re ready to help.