The End of the Out-of-Country Travellers program is coming for Ontarians

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Did you know that the Ontario government has announced it will stop covering the medical costs of Ontarians who travel outside Canada as it winds down the Out-Of-Country Travellers Program?

The Ontario government announced in April 2019 that it would stop covering the medical costs of Ontarians travelling outside Canada, terminating OHIP’s Out-of-Country (OOC) Travellers Program. Here is what you need to know.

What does the OOC program cover?

The OOC program reimburses Ontario residents travelling outside of Canada 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 is the program terminating?

The Ontario government’s termination of the OOC program is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2020. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the country to provide no coverage for emergency hospital and physician services received out of country.

The program was initially slated to end on October 1, 2019. The extension has been allowed to ensure sufficient time for the insurance industry to adjust their health and travel medical insurance plans. The Canadian Association of Financial Institutions in Insurance (CAFII) worked to ensure that people did not find themselves without adequate insurance as a result of the Ontario government moving ahead with the change too quickly.

The delay also enables a seamless transition between the old and new Ontario program parameters for eligible individuals.

How does the change affect you?

Ontario’s approach will mean that Ontario residents will have to cover the costs of care out of pocket, should they require medical attention while travelling. However, insured Ontario residents will continue to receive coverage for physician and hospital services when visiting or moving to another Canadian province or territory.

With all publicly financed reimbursement of out-of-country physician and hospital services eliminated, private travel medical insurance will be a necessity for those who travel outside of Canada. Ontarians who do not purchase insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.

Are there exceptions?

Ontarians with chronic kidney disease who require regular treatment by hemodialysis will continue to be covered by the province if they travel outside the country.

A new program will start January 1, 2020 and will be managed by the Ontario Renal Network. Under the program, dialysis patients can receive the same reimbursement rates that were provided through the OOC program, which amounts to $210 per dialysis treatment received out of country.

Will travel insurance premiums increase?

There may be an impact on private travel medical insurance premiums. The snowbird community who travel south during the winter months, cross-border shoppers, and Ontarians planning family vacations should expect to pay a little more for their coverage.

How will the program changes be communicated?

The government plans to undertake a robust, multi-year communications campaign to inform Ontarians about the change and resulting implications. Their goal is to

  • mitigate the risk to the travelling public resulting from this change in OHIP coverage, and
  • emphasize to Ontarians the importance of having travel health insurance in place before travelling outside Canada, so that they and their loved ones will have immediate access to emergency medical care and related assistance, and can avoid exposure to potentially catastrophic and life-altering financial costs.

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. Contact us today to learn more about your travel insurance coverage options.


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