The Health Minister representative announced on Wednesday that Ontarian government is lobbying to cut OHIP’s Out-of-Country Travellers Program due to concern about the province’s $11.7 billion deficit.
Progressive Conservative legislator Robin Martin stated: “We want to maximize value we get for people and we think that this is not an effective use of our resources.” According to Martin, people traveling abroad should purchase their own travel insurance as OHIP coverage is limited and 94 percent of international reimbursement is taken care of by private travel insurances.
Up until now, Canadian patients abroad enjoy up to $450 per day for inpatient and outpatient services under OHIP program. Around $9 million is claimed annually and an additional $2.8 million of administrative fees is shouldered by the province to process these claims.
The public was given six days to post their opinions from the publishing of the proposal by The Tories on Wednesday. If gone through, the new policy would take effect from the first of October.
Marit Stiles from NDP legislator views the cut as “disturbing” and accused the government of forcing the change while not properly consult Ontarians.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in her 2018 report, said that approximately 88,000 out-of-country claims were processed each year over the five year period with the average payout of $127 per claim. During the year 2017-2018, 83 percent of these claims went to the United States.
In the report, Lysyk also points out how vulnerable travelers could be even simply by crossing the border. The case of “Mary” was brought up for demonstration. The women caught up in a car accident on her way to Buffalo for a weekend shopping. She ended up with a $13,000 medical bill in which, only $1,400 was covered.
The report also criticizes the high administrative costs. This might due to checking varying services fee manually from different physicians. Hence, she suggests that the government should adopt a fixed rate of reimbursement for all out-of-country health services.
Another recommendation from Lysyk is more efforts should be made to raise Ontarians awareness about the need for private traveling health insurance as well as the coverage limits from OHIP program.
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