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6 months ago · by · 0 comments

Traveling Responsibly – A Travelers Guide to OHIP

Traveling can produce some of the most enlightening experiences. Seeing how other people around the world carry on their day to day life humbles the mind while exotic locations calm the soul. We live busy lives and it’s cold in winter.

Plus, there’s a lot to see out there

We’re fortunate as Canadians in that we have the means not only to travel but to travel safely. Those of us who do travel should travel safely. We’re used to having at least basic public healthcare as a right here in Ontario but it’s not like that everywhere. While abroad, it’s important you understand how to deal with medical emergencies and healthcare. Have the means.    

If you have valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage and you leave the country, you have some coverage but it limited. They will reimburse $50 per day for outpatient healthcare billing (the doctor) and a maximum of $400 per day of inpatient care (hospitalization), regardless of the severity of the situation and only for a limited period of time. It certainly would not have the authority of either private health insurance or a wad of cash in a foreign hospital. Some places are generous, others aren’t.    

It’s not advisable to rely on OHIP while abroad

If you have valid OHIP, travel health insurance is generally less expensive because you can always be taken back home for care. It’s also easier to get pre-existing medical conditions covered. If you don’t have valid OHIP and are staying abroad, you would need expatriate health insurance. If you’re emigrating then you would also have public and private health insurance options in your country of immigration.

It’s advisable to try to keep your OHIP coverage if you’re not emigrating and if you can. Pre-existing health conditions are more easily covered and prices are generally lower with traditional travel health insurance.

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In order to maintain your OHIP coverage, you can’t leave the province for more than 212 days in any 365 day period unless you have lived in the province for at least 153 days the two years prior. In the event that you have, OHIP validity will maintain for two years. You should start looking at expat health insurance only when you are in your second year abroad.

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If your returning to your home province from expatriation to make Ontario your residence again, and you have lost your OHIP coverage, you will be required to wait 3 months to regain coverage. The same applies if you are immigrating to Ontario. You can get private health insurance to bridge that 3 months. Private health insurance will cover you for emergency care, hospitalization, paramedical coverage, prescription care and some dental treatment. It’s typically referred to as visitors to Canada health insurance but it’s not just for visitors.

Get Visitors to Canada Health Insurance Quotes

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It’s important that when looking at private health insurance that do business with a provincially licensed broker. You should also look at plans from many different companies. A good broker will typically be able to send you price quotes from many different insurance companies all at once at no extra charge. Ask about exclusion clauses in the policy to consider how they may apply to you. If concerned, examine policy wording as again, a good broker should be able to provide.

In order for traveling to be a positive experience, it’s wise to cover the important bases prior to leaving. No traveler wants to deal with anything as serious as finances in a health emergency. Take care of yourself.   

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Blue Cross Health Benefit Plans – Savings with the Blue Advantage Program

As Canadians, we’re fortunate to have access to a public healthcare system. We hear these horror stories of people getting 4, 5 and even 6 figure medical bills in the US, dismissing that poor health can cost us our livelihood, even here in Ontario. We have good critical care but chronic illness is treated as an afterthought. Unless your condition is acute, degenerative or deadly, you have to push for public resources to engage healing. You need a referral for diagnostic tests or specialists and waiting in queues can be long.

Having a proper health benefits plan is a game changer in managing your health because it removes the main reason to delay treatment. It’s expensive to pay for medical specialists and diagnostics out of pocket. They’re not a fun expense either. I call it defensive spending because it’s to maintain your quality of life rather than improving it. If it’s the other way around  then you’re likely waiting too long to deal with health issues. Kind of like a gym pass, the psychological effect of paying for preventative health services in a health plan will push you to use them which inevitably makes you healthier. People with health benefits are healthier.

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In looking at health benefit plans; you want to get as much as you can for the money. To do that, you should get a plan before you need it. Health plans are way more accessible when you don’t have existing health conditions and medications that need to be covered. If you already have an issue to deal with you can still save money with a health plan but you have to choose the right one. Blue Cross health benefit plans come with a discount program called the Blue Advantage. Using a discount program is the easiest way to reduce your health spending if you’re already dealing with health issues. Blue Cross is the only insurance company offering an extensive discount program with their health benefit plans making them an ideal option.

With Blue Cross, Blue Advantage offers discounts up to 60% on lenses and frames for vision care related spending. If you choose one of their dental hygenist partners, you can access a 20% discount which can be used on top of the dental benefit you have purchased on your Blue Cross plan. Because all discounts can be used on top of existing benefits that the plan provides, the depth of savings is higher than any other plan. You just have to be flexible. There are also discounts at gyms, for physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, spinal decompression, nutritional counseling, smoking cessation programs, senior services and a multitude of medical devices. There are more discounts than I can reasonably list.                     

If you already have a health issue, the Express Plan by Blue Cross will offer you a higher level of coverage for the cost than counterparts because of the Blue Advantage discount program that comes as part of the plan. Not only can the discounts be used for existing medical issues but the coverage can too (with minor exceptions). By stacking Bluecross Express Plan coverage and BlueAdvantage discounts, you can save money on health expenses over the short and long term.  

Being proactive in the process of healing is the key to good health. You need to understand your ailments and have the resources to harmonize your health before issues turn into real problems. While awaiting the next OHIP covered step in your healing plan, you should educate yourself by meeting with alternative specialists.  See a naturopath, speak with an osteopath, try acupuncture, speak with a psychologist, see a dietician, dive into meditation, try massage therapy, aromatherapy or lose yourself in the jungle. It’s surprising what stress can do and one person won’t have all the answers.

Remove the biggest barrier (which is money) today by getting a quote for a health benefits plan.

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

Insure your Survival with Critical Illness Insurance

You may have heard of Critical Illness (CI) Insurance through your Insurance Advisor or at the bank when applying for mortgage insurance. A relative newcomer to the insurance industry, CI insurance originated in South Africa when a heart surgeon by the name of Dr. Barnard found that, although he was able to help his heart attack patients live longer, their finances were suffering due to the debilitating cost of the medical treatment and post surgery care. He developed an insurance concept in response to this need that would provide financial assistance to the patient allowing him/her to recover without having to worry about the cost of care or how they were going to meet their everyday financial obligations while they were off work.

CI insurance first came to Canada in 1995 and is only starting to become known thanks to the advisor and banking networks. There are essentially two ways one can purchase CI. The first is as a personally owned policy through the advisor network. In this case, the client has full control of how the proceeds are used since these policies pay out a lump sum in the form of a cheque upon diagnosis of a critical illness as long as the patient survives a period of 30 days. The funds can be used to pay for medical care not covered by OHIP such as experimental drugs or for care sought outside of Canada. Other possible expenses that could be covered include mortgage payments and other monthly obligations that may otherwise fall behind if the patient is unable to return to work right away.

The second method of purchasing CI insurance is through your mortgage provider when you renew or apply for a new mortgage. The policy is tied to the mortgage and any proceeds are used strictly for paying off the mortgage or continuing your mortgage payments for a set amount of time, usually up to one year. As you can see, there is less flexibility as you do not control how the proceeds are allocated. For this reason, it is well worth the time and effort to apply for personally owned coverage through an Advisor.

The three top illnesses covered by CI are Heart Attack, Stroke and Cancer. These three illnesses alone represent over 85% of the claims for CI insurance. Most companies start with these three in their base policy, adding over 21 additional illnesses to their more comprehensive plans. There are also several options that can be added to enhance protection. One option that is worth mentioning is the return of premium rider. With this rider, the insurance company guarantees they will refund all your premiums paid to a specific date as long as no claims were made. The contract is surrendered at the time you decide to exercise this option and it is available as early as 10 years into the contract. The return of premium feature makes it easier to purchase CI coverage knowing that if you do not become ill, you will get all your money back.

Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for CI insurance. For instance, individuals who have a family history of critical illness will have a harder time obtaining coverage, particularly if two or more direct family members have suffered from a critical illness in the past. However, in general, if you are in your 30’s or 40’s, have a family that is dependent on you, or you are single and would not have the resources to care for yourself and meet your ongoing obligations if you were to become critically ill, then it is highly recommended that you consider a personally owned CI insurance policy. My advice is to discuss CI insurance with your Advisor so that he/she can determine whether you qualify for this important coverage.

 

 

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