Alberta health care coverage extended for snowbirds

Edmonton – Alberta’s snowbirds can extend their stay an extra month and keep their health care coverage.

Long-term travellers can now be out of Alberta for up to sevens months a year and maintain their health care coverage as long as they don’t take up permanent residence outside the province.

The previous limit was six-months.

“It’s the right thing to do. It shows appreciation to the snowbirds that helped build Alberta and it provides flexibility to longer-term travellers,” explained Associate Minister of Seniors Dave Quest.

The extension starts immediately and applies to Albertans who have already left the country.

“Ensuring that Albertans get the care they need when they need it is important,” said Health Minister Fred Horne. “Whether it be improvements in community care, access to cheaper pharmaceuticals or extending the period of health coverage for those travelling, we will continue to take the steps necessary to help Albertans maintain their health and wellness.”

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To ensure their health care coverage remains up to date, Albertans who plan to be out of the province for extended periods are asked to contact Alberta Health before leaving.

“This is welcome news for our members who told us they wanted the option to visit other countries for several months at a time, without sacrificing their health care coverage. Extending coverage for an extra month gives travellers more flexibility, said Michael MacKenzie, Canadian Snowbird Association Executive Director.

MacKenzie adds the extension doesn’t change the need for snowbirds to purchase out of country health insurance.

“My own wife had a small episode a couple years ago, was in the hospital for 12 hours. If I hadn’t had insurance, the bill would have been $14,000.”

Alberta is the fifth province to allow residents to spend seven months or longer out of province and keep their health care coverage.

British Columbia, Ontario, and Manitoba allow residents seven months out of province. Newfoundland allows eight months.

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