We all know and understand that our Canadian Health Insurance Program is not available outside of Canada, at least not to the levels that we have come to expect. In fact, these days only about 10% of a person's out of country medical costs will be covered by their Provincial Health Insurance.
We have all come to realize that when travelling it is imperative to purchase additional travel insurance coverage to look after us in the event of an accident or emergency medical situation. The problem is that travel insurance can be expensive, confusing and downright difficult. As we get older the insurance rates typically increase and heaven forbid there is an ongoing medical situation or a pre-existing condition because then it just goes downhill from there.
More and more often I hear of people that are frustrated with their insurance options (or lack of them) suggest that perhaps they will forego travel insurance this year and just buy into an Air Ambulance Evacuation plan. It is less expensive and will bring them home in the event a problem occurs and they won't get stuck racking up hospital bills in the USA or overseas. Right?
These conversations scare me. Don't get me wrong Air Ambulance plans are great, cheap and fairly easy to purchase. They are a good idea for the adventure seekers who might find themselves stranded on the side of a mountain. It is also an option for folks that don't have additional health insurance or employee plans (these plans will typically cover air ambulance costs in Canada for covered situations).
They are NOT however a substitute for Emergency Medical/Travel insurance.
What people need to understand is that if you have a heart attack or an involved in a serious car accident in Arizona or Hawaii this winter you won't just get put on an aircraft and flown home. The trauma physician in charge of your case has to confirm that you are STABLE and then release you. In addition to the stability requirement the doctor has to know that there is a bed for you at the other end or they will not sign the release. You could end up in a U.S. hospital for several days or longer until the attending physician is satisfied that it is safe to release you. It is their professional responsibility and their job on the line to ensure it is medically safe for you to travel.
I recommend that you carefully discuss your travel insurance plans with a CAA Consultant before making a final decision. CAA Insurance and Travel experts can review your insurance options with you to make sure that you are fully protected in the event of a health situation and answer all your questions about insurance.
You don't want to risk your financial future or your health, so take the time to pack the right insurance.