This article has been updated from a previous version.
You fly across Canada to visit your friend in Kelowna, B.C., and the two of you decide to go hiking. Then, while excitedly clamouring through the forest to get a better view of the skyline, you trip on a tree root and hit your head.
Your friend scrambles to call an ambulance.
Luckily, you only suffer a minor concussion and you’re going to be just fine. In fact, the ambulance fee is going to be the bigger headache because, as it turns out, you have to pay for the whole thing out of pocket.
And so you learn the hard way that when it comes to health coverage in Canada, you might as well be crossing over into another country when you enter another province.
Your health care plan doesn’t travel as well as you do
Your health care plan is provincial, which means every province and territory has a separate plan. You only have access to the full extent of your health care coverage when you’re in your home province; travel beyond those provincial borders (but still within Canada) and some of your medical benefits drop away.
Which is why your (hypothetical) ambulance ride wasn’t covered. For example, if your home province is Ontario, the bill would be majorly subsidized under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
Of course, that’s not to say your provincial health care plan is going to leave you completely hanging. You’ll retain some of your medical benefits as you travel around Canada, but you may only qualify for the same amount of coverage you’d receive at home.
And that presents a problem because, if you recall, every province and territory has its own health care system.
So the amount of coverage you’d get in your home province may not be enough to cover the same medical service that you need while in another province or territory. If that’s the case (and you don’t have travel insurance), you may be stuck paying the difference. And not to be a Negative Nancy here, but just think of all the accidental injuries, freak accidents, or sudden illnesses that you could incur while you’re away.
Murphy’s law (with a spin): if something can go wrong, it will — and it’ll probably be expensive.
Travel insurance can literally come to your rescue
Up until this article, you probably didn’t realize that you might need travel insurance for trips within Canada. Especially if you don’t normally buy travel insurance at all.
But we’re not invincible. Or rich.
And if an emergency occurs while we’re out-of-province, our health care plans usually won’t cover these services at all:
- Prescription drugs
- Dental emergencies
- Medical transportation back home
- Emergency air or ground transportation
Fortunately, a travel medical insurance policy will. Travel insurance can basically just fill in the holes that your health care plan leaves behind.
And while we don’t like to believe that anything bad or tragic or scary could ever happen to us — especially when we’re so close to home — we know anything’s possible.
So take precautions.
Get the travel insurance policy, even if you’re just roadtrippin’ across the country. And one more thing — don’t forget to look where you’re going so you can avoid that hypothetical concussion and ambulance ride altogether.