Tips and resources to help you throughout your caregiving journey

Health insurance and travelling within Canada

Question

If you are Canadian and you leave your home province for a vacation in another Canadian province or territory, do you need extra health insurance coverage?

For example, let’s say your parents live in British Columbia and would like to travel to Ontario to visit you and their grandchildren. What happens if one of your parents requires hospitalization in Ontario? Who will pay for their health care expenses?

Answer

The Canada Health Act requires that each province and territory extend hospital and physician coverage to residents who are temporarily away from their home province or territory.  So, if your parents need to visit a hospital emergency department or visit a physician while travelling in Canada, their home province will pay for those services. It is important to know that sometimes there is a requirement to pay the visiting province “up front” and get reimbursed from your home province or territory (Quebec, for example did not sign the interprovincial billing agreement and you will likely need to pay up front).

However, if your parents require ambulance services (ground or air transportation to home province) and/or prescription drugs, these services will not be covered.

It follows then, that it is wise to obtain extra health insurance coverage if you are travelling outside your home province or territory. Otherwise, you are at risk for some unexpected and costly health care costs. Like virtually all insurance, it is a safety net for worst-case scenarios.

Supplemental health insurance options.

In addition to providing coverage for such things as prescriptions and ambulances, travel insurance may also cover other costs that you may not have thought about.  For example, accommodation for travelling companions may be covered or trip interruption coverage to pay for expenses such as flights that are not refundable. There are a few options for obtaining this extra coverage.

  • Employee benefits program coverage. If you or your parents are employed, your employee benefits program may provide further travel insurance.  
  • Some credit card companies also offer health and travel insurance. Ask for a list of the services that are covered under a pre-existing plan.
  • Many banks and insurance companies also offer insurance coverage for travelers.

Of course, one should always travel with their health card. If travel insurance has been purchased, or you are enrolled in a pre-existing plan, it is a good idea to keep a copy of the telephone number for the insurance company in a wallet or purse. This will ensure that it is easily accessible if and when it is needed.

What else is there to say? Happy travels. Bookmark this page to help you and/or your parents plan for future travel.

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