Ontario criticized by federal health minister for eliminating out-of-country health insurance

Access to medical care can be jeopardized by the elimination of out-of-country health insurance and could create troubles for some travelers, in a letter to her Ontario counterpart the federal health minister warned on Wednesday.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor stated that the move announced by Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford will hurt people who travel regularly to the US.

Taylor stated in her letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott that if all publicly financed reimbursement of out-of-country medics & hospital services is eliminated, private health insurance premiums for travelers will certainly rise for all Ontario residents. Even modest increases could result in increased hardship for some individuals.

Currently, for a higher level of care like intensive care, the program covers out-of-country inpatient services up to $400 per day as well up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient & medic services.

In May, Elliott announced the decision to scrap the program following a 6-day public consultation, stating it is very expensive & does not provide value to taxpayers.

In October, the change is expected to come into effect.

A spokesman for Elliott confirmed on Wednesday that the government plans to wind down the program & strongly encourage people to purchase travel health insurance.

Travis Kann stated that the coverage of the program is very limited with only 5 cents of every dollar claimed. With this low reimbursement rate and limited coverage, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not buy private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.

Elliott stated that the province spends $2.8M to administer around $9 million in claim payments through the program every year.

It was warned by Taylor that if Ontario moves onward with its plan it will be the first country’s jurisdiction to provide no coverage for emergency hospital & physician services received out of the country.