Ontario’s provincial government is proposing to end its emergency out-of-country medical coverage – a plan that already has several critics.
The government gave Ontarians until Tuesday next week to respond to the proposal.
Currently, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers out-of-country inpatient services to a maximum of $400 per day for a higher level of care, and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services and doctor services.
In its proposal, the government justified the plan to scrap the plan since it only covers just 5% of the cost of a typical medical emergency for Ontarians travelling overseas. The government also reasoned that vacationers are already purchasing insurance.
“OHIP data suggests, of those 40,000 Ontarians who do travel outside of Canada each year and require health services, over 90% obtain private travel health insurance,” the government’s proposal read.
The plan to scrap the OHIP emergency out-of-country medical coverage is part of the provincial government’s effort to address the province’s $11.7 billion shortfall.
A 2018 auditor general report found that Ontario pays $9 million each year in emergency out-of-country medical claims.
CBC News reported that the Canadian Snowbird Association has responded to the proposal, calling it “unprecedented”. The association said that scrapping the coverage would only increase premiums for private travel medical insurance coverage – by 7.5%, it projects – which inconveniences not just snowbirds, but also cross-border shoppers and regular Ontarian vacationers.
Opposing politicians have also voiced their concerns regarding the plan.
“Without actually having a conversation with the folks who will be affected, who travel overseas or to the south during the winter months ... I don't know how this government can be making this decision at all,” said NDP legislator Marit Stiles.