Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Travel Health Insurance Serenade


Travel Health Insurance: Reimbursement Depends On Following The Rules

Travelling, whether for business or pleasure, involves risk. A personal emergency may necessitate an early return, or you may need hospital treatment or air evacuation due to a medical problem. Travellers should be aware that the Ontario government health plan (OHIP) is rarely enough when it comes to medical treatment outside the country, so without supplementary insurance during an emergency, you could be exposed to considerable financial obligations.

Travel health insurance policies vary considerably, says the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), an agency of the Ministry of Finance that regulates Ontario's insurance industry. FSCO reminds us to pay special attention to the definitions, pre-existing condition clauses, deductibles, as well as the limitations and exclusions sections of the policies. Ask for clear explanations of each and once you are satisfied, make your insurance purchase. But even then, says FSCO, there is a bit more work for you to do — as follows:
- Read the policy: Before leaving on your trip, read and become familiar with your policy and the coverage. It is your responsibility to know what you have purchased.
- Take it with you: Include the policy with your travel documents. Keep both the emergency contact phone number available, as well as the number for your insurance company. Compile and include a list of current medications.
- Get authorization (if possible): If a medical problem arises, the toll-free phone number provided will connect you to an emergency service centre. Be ready to supply all the facts and information and ask for clarification if you do not fully understand. Service centres manage and monitor your treatment and make the medical referrals. Before you go ahead with treatment however, be sure the service centre has obtained authorization from your home-based insurance company. If not, you may be personally obligated for medical services not approved.
- Follow the payment process: Under some policies, you pay the hospital and are reimbursed later by the insurance company. Other policies provide payment directly to the medical facility or practitioner. The policy will tell you which procedure to follow.

More information on travel health insurance is available online at www.fsco.gov.on.ca.

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