Ontario looks to cut OHIP program covering emergency medical costs abroad

Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches as Health Minister Christine Elliott speaks at an event at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto on Jan. 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is proposing an end to Ontario Health Insurance Plan coverage for Ontarians who experience a medical emergency while out of the country.

The proposal said these changes to the government insurance program, which partly covers medical costs incurred abroad, could take effect as soon as Oct. 1 if approved.

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“Our proposal to wind down the OOC Travellers Program is part of our government’s commitment to ensure tax dollars are spent more responsibly and that we are protecting the services that matter the most to Ontario families,” said Hayley Chazan, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Chazan said a recent audit found that the program cost the ministry $2.8 million to administer approximately $9 million in claim payments.

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The program currently covers out-of-country inpatient services to a maximum of $400 per day for a higher level of care, such as intensive care, as well up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services and doctor services.

“The OOC Travellers Program coverage is very limited, with five cents of every dollar claimed,” said Chazan. “For this reason, Ontario has strongly encouraged individuals to purchase additional travel health insurance so they are adequately covered every time they leave Ontario to travel abroad.”

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The government says it will accept public feedback until April 30 on its proposal to end the program.

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—With files from the Canadian Press

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