Ford government wants to end OHIP coverage while travelling abroad
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019 12:30PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 24, 2019 3:03PM EDT
The Ford government is proposing to end OHIP coverage for Ontarians when they travel outside of Canada, saying most tourists buy private health insurance for trips anyways.
According to a proposed amendment to the Health Insurance Act made public on Wednesday, the PCs want to end the Out of Country Travellers Program run by OHIP.
The program covered sudden emergency medical expenses provided the condition was unexpected and arose while a patient was outside of Canada, to the tune of $400 per day for intensive care in hospital, $200 per day for lower levels of care and $50 per day for outpatient services.
“It’s a proposal, we’re still talking to stakeholders about it but what we’ve found is that it’s a very inefficient program. It’s got a high administrative cost. And frankly when the coverage is given – a max of $400 per day, it represents about five cents on the dollar for the person looking for coverage,” Eglinton-Lawrence PC MPP Robin Martin, who is also Parliamentary Assistant for Health, told CP24.
The Ford government says those reimbursed under the program received five per cent of their total medical costs on average, and OHIP itself believes 90 per cent of travellers who fall ill abroad already purchase travel medical insurance.
“This proposal does not affect current publicly funded health care coverage for Ontarians travelling in other parts of Canada,” the notice of amendment published Wednesday said.
The proposed change would take effect on Oct. 1, 2019.
“It might add some clarity for people if they just bought the coverage they probably should be buying to travel,” Martin said.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care says the change will result in “a small increase” to travel insurance premiums charged to travellers and some “one-time transitional costs.”
Members of the public who wish to comment on the amendment have six days —until April 30 — to do so.
A spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott told the Canadian Press the move would save as much as $11.8 million annually.
Despite the short comment period, Martin says the cut is “just something we’re looking at,” and no definitive decision has been made.