Out of Province Medical Insurance

A few years ago when I was vacationing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I accidently fell down the steps of my travel trailer and broke my arm. Unfortunately, the break required an operation and in that one event I discovered how important it is to have Out of Province Medical Insurance. The care for the broken arm cost US$11,412 and my BC Medical Plan reimbursed me for only C$636.

My accident taught me how comprehensive Out of Province Medical Insurance actually is. It is not just for people travelling out of the country; it is important to have coverage even if you are travelling within Canada. Most provinces, but not all, have a reciprocal agreement with British Columbia for hospital care costs. However, drugs and ambulance charges are not part of the agreement. Also, a doctor or dentist will charge you his standard office visit fee which might be higher than the BC Medical Plan allows for visits.   Once, when I was on vacation I hurt my back and was surprised to find that in that province I needed a prescription for Robaxacet. In BC this drug is an easily available counter drug. I paid $65 for the appointment with the doctor to give me a prescription and BC Medical only reimbursed me $20 for the visit. My Out of Province Medical Policy reimbursed me for the shortfall in the bill from the doctor plus the cost of the drug. The travel policy also covers things such as flying a family member to your bedside, returning you and your vehicle to BC if you cannot drive (as happened to me when I broke my arm), and most importantly, providing doctor referrals, language translation, and general advise. Many travel policies will even cover costs to “return/rebound” you back to your vacation spot so that you can complete your interrupted vacation.

Accidents happen to everyone and you can never predict when you will become ill. Without a travel policy to cover the unexpected additional costs, you may find it very difficult to recover financially from your vacation. Not all policies are the same. If you think that you have coverage with your employer, your travel agent, your bank or your charge cards, you should contact your local independent insurance broker for a review. As the saying goes, “Don’t leave home without it!