Knowing how your coverage works is important
If you are travelling outside Canada, a little preparation is important to enjoying some time away. You should know what coverage you have in place; who to call in case of a medical emergency; and how to make a claim for any out-of-pocket expenses. According to 2008 data from Great-West Life, the average out-of-country hospital bill was roughly $35,000, while the average outpatient invoice was approximately $2,400.
Out-of-country coverage under your employee benefits plan is designed to provide benefits during a medical emergency while you or your insured dependents are temporarily outside Canada for business, education, or vacation. Most group plans provide coverage for medical expenses incurred only during the initial treatment of a medical emergency, such as physician fees, lab fees, and hospital fees.
Your provincial coverage must be in place in order for your employee benefits coverage to apply. The provincial plan is always considered the "first payor" in a medical emergency.
Travel assistance is a separate type of coverage from out-of-country emergency medical coverage. While out-of-country coverage focuses on the medical costs of an emergency, travel assistance coverage provides aid through coordinators who can direct you to an appropriate health care facility, or assist with travel arrangements following a medical emergency.
Most employee benefit plans do not include coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, or loss/damage of baggage. You many want to consider obtaining these types of coverages from other sources.
Before you depart, make sure you have your travel assistance card with you. Some countries require proof of medical coverage when travelling (such as Cuba). If required, let us know and we can help you obtain this from the insurer.
If you experience a medical emergency, contact your insurer's out-of-country providers (noted on the back of your travel assistance card). They will not only help coordinate the claim, but frequently can negotiate the cost of coverage to save your plan money. Also, inform your plan administrator as soon as possible, and we will work with them to ensure your claim is processed properly and handled efficiently.