Going south? Check out changes to OHIP for travellers

Contributed by Shehnaz Hussain, Intuitive Financial Solutions

Summer is over, and mature travellers are planning their winter getaways.  A recent Conference Board of Canada report reveals that although travel tends to decline with age, now Canadians over 74 are healthier, wealthier and more mobile than ever and this will continue to positively influence travel in the future.

Understand the ins and outs of your provincial health plan and travel insurance

Note: As of January 2020, Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) will no longer provide any coverage if a traveller gets sick or injured outside of their home province.

Make sure you know how long you can travel outside of your home province

Travellers can only leave their home provinces for a certain number of days per year and still maintain provincial health benefits—this varies by province.

Currently, residents of Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, BC, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland/Labrador can travel out of province up to 212 days. Residents of all other provinces and territories max out at 182 days.

If you stay out of province beyond the specified time period, you may have to deal with a waiting period to re-establish residency and get your benefits back.

Ensure you get the best travel insurance for your trip

The Conference Board report also states that in 2018, the volume of leisure trips to overseas destinations increased for the 5th year in a row, while travel to the US remained modest. As well, mature travellers taking more trips has created more opportunities for multi-generational travel and promoted a shift in the number of Canadians taking multiple trips in a year.

If you are skipping the US on your next trip, know that you can get Excluding USA Emergency Medical travel insurance. It’s less expensive than policies that include travel to the US.

If you are taking more than one trip in a year, a Multi Trip Annual Emergency Medical plan may be the most economical option. To save even more, you can buy a Multi Trip plan for the shortest trip in the year and add an extension if you take a longer trip.

Source: Conference Board of Canada, Outbound Canada, Travel Outlook: Caribbean & Mexico 2019-2023.  Share these articles to help your customers understand the importance of travel insurance.

  • Travel Outside Canada: How Provincial Health Plans Cover You Abroad
  • The Benefits of Multi Trip Annual Travel Insurance
  • Travel Medical Insurance for Seniors

Are Mobility Devices Covered? You Have Options

Mobility devices are crucial in helping seniors maintain their independence and they make it possible for a caregiver to assist them to move around in their homes. Without access to mobility devices, elderly persons risk a complete lack of independence and often, isolation which has been proven to significantly impact mental and physical well being, and mortality.

Seniors with mobility issues have special needs, and agencies like Living Assistance Services, provide caregivers who are knowledgeable in their use.

These devices can be costly, but fortunately, government-funded programs and private insurance can help cover most or all of the cost of devices.

The Assistive Devices Program (ADP)

Subject to a required application for a funding assessment that must be completed by an Authorized Registered Occupational Therapist (ADP), Ontario residents with a valid health card and a disability that requires the use of a mobility aid for six months or longer can get help paying for mobility devices. Upon approval of the application for funding by ADP, the program covers 75 percent of the cost of the device, so you only pay 25 percent.

If you receive financial support from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), ADP will cover 100 percent of the cost.

Devices that are covered by the program include:

  • manual and power wheelchairs
  • power scooters
  • wheeled walkers
  • power add-on devices that can be added to an existing manual wheelchair
  • positioning devices, such as head and back supports, cushions, etc.
  • forearm-crutches
  • replacements if your device is worn-out, your needs have changed, or you no longer fit

You can find out how to apply at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/mobility-aids

Private Insurance Plans

Some seniors opt to supplement their OHIP coverage with private insurance. While plans and health insurance providers vary in what is covered and how much of the cost is covered, many do offer partial coverage for the cost of mobility aids.

Check your insurance policy or contact your provider to find out which devices are covered by your plan.

If You Can’t Afford to Cover Your Share of the Cost

If you’re not able to afford to pay your portion of the cost for a mobility device, there are a number of volunteer and non-profit organizations in Ontario that may be able to help with financial assistance or by providing a mobility device free of charge. Some of these include:

  • March of Dimes Canada
  • Lions Clubs
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Royal Canadian Legion

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources:
Assistive Devices Program – Mobility Aids. https://www.ontario.ca/page/mobility-aids
Seniors and Aging – Assistive Devices. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/lifestyles/seniors-aging-assistive-devices.html