ONTARIO CANCELS OUT-OF-COUNTRY HEALTH COVERAGE

Release date : May 03, 2019

After an insufficient 6-day public consultation, the government of Ontario announced on May 1 st that they are going to proceed with terminating OHIP's Out-of-Country (OOC) Travellers Program. The program, which provides reimbursement for Ontario residents who face unexpected medical emergencies while abroad, will officially be scrapped on October 1, 2019.

We have always emphasized that the purchase of supplemental travel medical insurance is essential for Canadians travelling outside of the country. That being said, the Canada Health Act (CHA) is unambiguous. The right to portable health coverage is enshrined in the CHA which requires the provinces to extend medically necessary hospital and physician coverage to their eligible residents during temporary absences from the province – including outside of Canada at in-province rates.

A government which claims to be "for the people" would not limit public discussion on a change of this magnitude to under a week. Just hours after the final day of consultation, the Minister of Health, Christine Elliott announced the government's plan to move forward with the elimination of provincial out-of-country coverage. Further, a government "for the people" wouldn't pursue policies which make life more unaffordable for Ontario seniors, many of whom are on fixed or limited incomes, by gifting insurance companies a blank cheque for premium increases.

This is just the beginning. Over 25 years ago, the CSA faced a similar challenge when the Ontario government of the day reduced their out-of-country reimbursement rate from up to $400 per day for emergency inpatient services to $100 per day. We fought back and successfully advocated to have the reimbursement rate restored to the original amount. We will continue to push the Ontario government to reverse this short-sighted policy change and work with all parties in the legislature to achieve that goal.

We would like to thank our members for taking the time to email and write the Premier, Minister of Health, and their local MPPs. Over the 6-day period, the CSA was copied on over 1,500 emails and letters from across the province. Despite the government's decision, this correspondence was crucial in communicating to the Ontario government our firm opposition to the termination of the OOC Travellers Program.

As we continue to fight on your behalf, please consider making a contribution to our Special Action Fund (SAF). Every dollar donated to the Special Action Fund goes toward government lobbying and consultation. Donations can be made online here,
www.snowbirds.org/csa/saf/csa-special-action-fund.php.

We will keep our members updated on our advocacy efforts on this issue by email, CSANews, and www.snowbirds.org. If you have any questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office toll-free at 1-800-265-3200 or by email at csastaff@snowbirds.org.