Everyone knows that whenever you travel abroad, it’s a very good idea to purchase travel insurance before leaving. Did you know that this is also true as soon as you leave Quebec—even if you’re only visiting other parts of Canada?
To demystify the role of travel insurance in Canada, here are four myths and arguments commonly mentioned by travellers who don’t think they need it, and our explanations.
The Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) does not fully reimburse healthcare services received outside the province. In addition, there are some services that aren’t covered at all under the provincial health insurance plan.
If services received in the province visited costs more than what the RAMQ is prepared to reimburse, you’ll have to pay the difference. In other words, if you get medical care in, say, British Columbia or Prince Edward Island, and you don’t have private health insurance, you’ll have to pay for the portion of expenses that is not reimbursed by the RAMQ.
Here is an example illustrating the costs to a Quebec resident of a hospital stay in Ontario:
|Amount charged||Amount reimbursed|
by the Régie
|Amount for wich the|
patient is responsible
|Hospital services||0$ (upon presentation of the Health Insurance Card)|
2. I don’t need travel insurance in my own country; I’m covered under interprovincial agreements.
A doctor can accept the Quebec health insurance card; he or she will then be reimbursed for services rendered in accordance with the fees in effect in Quebec. So-called “reciprocity of services” agreements are special exchange-of-services arrangements between two parties, in this case doctors. In fact, many physicians outside Quebec accept the health insurance card to cover their fees. However, not all doctors participate in this program and they are not obligated to do so; the decision is up to the individual doctor or office. So it’s better for the traveller not to take a chance that might have heavy financial consequences!
3. I’d rather run the risk of assuming part of my medical expenses than buy travel insurance.
Remember: the RAMQ covers a broad range of care and services, but it doesn’t cover everything. Fees that aren’t covered in Quebec won’t be when you’re travelling outside the province either. This is true of the following, among others:
- Transportation by ambulance if you are under 65;
- The cost of bringing you back to Quebec (by ground or air);
- A private (or semi-private) hospital room;
- Fees for extra services (e.g., rental of crutches, TV in hospital room);
- Drugs purchased outside Quebec;
- Services provided by a healthcare professional other than a doctor (e.g., a dentist).
Only private health insurance or travel insurance can reimburse you for the cost of these services in the case of an emergency.
4. I’m prepared to buy travel insurance when I go to Europe or the U.S., but if I’m staying in Canada, I find it unfair to have to pay the same price.
Insurers calculate their premiums based on the risks, the costs of medical care in the country visited, and a great many other factors. Because the RAMQ reimburses a larger part of fees paid in Canada than in other countries, which reduces the potential expenses, some insurance companies adjust to the market. They offer flexible products, adapted for travel in other Canadian provinces, and at rates much lower than those for international travel insurance.
For more details on which services are covered when travelling outside Quebec, please read the information on this page of the RAMQ website.
Other advantages of travel insurance
Most travel insurance includes 24/7 assistance services, which can be handy as soon as you leave the province, even if you go no father than Ontario!
What’s more, if you have travel insurance, you don’t need to take care of applying for your refunds from the RAMQ. Your insurer handles it and co-ordinates the entire process, saving you valuable time!