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Bird

Talk

Dear Bird Talk,

This past winter in Florida, I went to a walk-in clinic and paid

cash for the visit. The doctor sent me to the nearby hospital for an

ultrasound of my leg and, again, I paid them cash. After arriving back

in Ontario, I mailed my receipts to the London OHIP office. They

have returned them to me and requested detailed statements, plus the

travel insurance company which I use. I only have receipts because of

cash payment, and the amounts were less than my deductible. Is this

the usual action? Do others receive any compensation from OHIP?

The hospital and a radiology department sent me additional bills,

but I negotiated them and paid no more.

Bette Bone-Wake

Brantford, ON

Ed.:

My immediate question is, what OHIP employee needs to

know more about an ultrasound bill than that it is a bill for an ul-

trasound. Sometimes, OHIP makes me as crazy as the crooked

U.S. health-care system. I notice that you paid your bills in cash

and got receipts, but then got more bills. These are fraudulent

bills and most providers in the U.S. will try to get more money

from you. They hope that your insurer will pay by mistake; they

hope that you are forgetful and will pay the bill again; they hope

to defraud you and/or your insurance company!

OHIP is another matter. They want to know who your travel in-

surance company is so that they can get them to do the work.

Medipac Assist has an agreement with OHIP (and several other

provinces) to pay the bills and then submit them, in bundles, for

payment. So, if you are insured with Medipac, you should just

send the bills to us and we will get your money for you. In most

cases, of course, this money is simply applied to your claim un-

less it is under your deductible, as yours was. Congratulations

for fighting back on those extra bills.

Dear Bird Talk,

We rented a car in Colorado and had a slow leak in a tire; we found

there was no spare, only a blow-up kit with a sealer included. However,

if you had a slash in your tire it would be useless, so you may wish

to be sure that you have a spare if you are travelling to remote areas.

In addition, the airbag recall states that this is a main concern in

high heat and humidity areas, so they would not be concerned with

notifying Canadians. This could be a problem for snowbirds, as we

travel to warm areas for the winter and should possibly see about the

inherent danger of our airbags activating when we go south.

Robert Mackay

St. George, ON

Ed.:

Always check your spare tire to make sure that it is working

and suitable for use before travelling, and ask when renting a

car. We tend to just ignore the substantial bad press about air-

bags, and we do so at our peril. These defective airbags are very

dangerous and, as Mr. Mackay points out, the problem worsens

in the high heat and humidity. And don’t think that it is some-

one else’s problem; almost every car has had airbag recalls. See

your friendly dealer.

Dear Bird Talk,

I’ve read with interest the various letters to Bird Talk in issue 94 of

CSANews

. The clear, definitive answers to the various questions are

very helpful...almost. I say almost, because I wonder if you’re doing

members a disservice with such emphatic answers without stating

upon which rules you are basing your answers. The rules to which

I refer are the immigration rules enforced by Customs & Border

Protection (CBP) and the taxation rules of the IRS. I believe that it is

CBP who applies the 30-day rule for snowbirds who return to Canada

for Christmas, while Form 8840 of the IRS is very clearly based on

an actual count of the number of days in the U.S. with no mention

of short-term stays on either side of the border. Clearly, there are two

distinct sets of rules which, while similar, are not the same. Snowbirds

must be compliant with all rules and err on the side of caution when

confronted by contradictions.

Stuart Gauld

Carman, MB

Ed.:

“Err on the side of caution” is excellent advice. There are

two separate U.S. government agencies and they have different

rules. The INS is the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

– they care about how long you stay in the U.S. and whether you

are eligible for entry at all. They generally allow you to stay for up

to six months in any 12-month period as a visitor. If you leave the

U.S., as on a short vacation, they will not credit you with those

days unless you stay away for at least 30 days.

The IRS is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (commonly known

as the Tax Man) and they want you to pay taxes to the U.S.

government. If you stay for longer than six months, they assume

that you are resident in the U.S. and they’ll come after you to

pay taxes…on your worldwide income! They deal in calendar

years, just like the Canadian tax people. The IRS will start to

review anyone who stays for three months or longer and then

you may have to prove to them that you are not really a resident

of the U.S. CSA recommends that you complete a Form 8840

every year and file it with the IRS. This will state that you have a

“Closer Connection” to Canada and it could alleviate tax prob-

lems in the future.

Dear Bird Talk,

I see there has been a lot of discussion about many different cellular

plans, and I thought I might weigh in a little with my personal

experiences. I have a secondary property in Las Vegas and travel there

occasionally throughout the year. I have tried adding U.S. travel pack

plans Via FIDO and found it was getting expensive and I used almost

all of my data all of the time. I did try the Roammobility plan as well

and found it OK but, again, slightly expensive. I also tried keeping

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