Canada has a universal public health insurance program (Medicare) that usually covers the cost of most injuries and illnesses for citizens, meaning that individuals requiring dental or medical attention can visit doctors and hospitals with no bills to pay. However, some areas of health care aren’t covered by the governmental plan and travellers from other countries or new residents may not have access to the free health care, making short-term insurance a must. Suffering a medical emergency in a foreign country, even one as close as Canada, can empty your wallet very quickly.
Most short-term health insurance providers offer insurance for periods from as little as a few days to up to a year. Considering that many travellers to Canada can visit for only six months per year, health insurance coverage for longer periods may be unnecessary. However, individuals planning to enter and leave the country frequently over the course of a year should look into coverage that is as long as possible.
If you have health insurance in your own country, you can check with the insurance provider to see if your current coverage will also cover any accident or illness while travelling abroad, as you may not need a separate short-term insurance while on vacation or business. United States insurance companies can provide extra insurance for travellers to Canada based on the time spent out-of-country and the limits of coverage required. While health care costs in Canada are relatively lower than costs in the United States, you can estimate that a hospital stay in Canada might average $3,000 a day and having insurance coverage limits of approximately $50,000 is a good idea.
Compare costs between insurance companies and find out ahead of time what medical needs are covered and what aren’t. Never assume that the worst won’t happen, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, do work with an insurance company that is professional and that carries a strong reputation. While unknown companies may have cheaper rates, choosing an insurance provider with a name most people recognize is the best decision. Be careful of deductibles, as they’ll affect the overall cost of the insurance coverage. Higher deductibles lower rates and while paying out of pocket may seem feasible at the time you agree to take short-term insurance coverage, you may find yourself in serious medical straits without the available cash or funds required for treatment.
A consideration about requiring short-term health insurance for Canada is whether the individual has a pre-existing condition, as most short-term insurance plans will not cover costs relating to existing situations. Short-term health insurance is for emergencies only and for medical attention that is sudden or unplanned. Evacuation is something to look into, should you need to return to your home country or place of residence quickly. Many insurance providers don’t offer the option of covering costs of evacuation, and the procedure could be expensive. Also, include dental insurance in your coverage if possible, as many people overlook this aspect but find themselves requiring emergency oral care.
Always carry identification on you, as well as information or a policy card that lets emergency attendants know that you have insurance coverage. Your identification should include the provider and policy name, effective dates, and as much pertinent coverage information as possible.