Kevin, out for a hike in the beautiful country of Lesotho, Africa. Photo taken February 13, 2014.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Medical Insurance

We've hinted a couple of times that we might return to Mexico a little earlier than normal. We're thinking September. Reader Elaine from Canada asked the following question...

"How do you maintain your Canadian medical coverage? I thought you could only be out of the country for 6 months."

Because Canadian medical coverage is administered by each province separately, the actual rules for this are different in each province. We only know the Ontario OHIP coverage, so that's what we'll talk about here.

So in Ontario, it's not really 6 months. What the rule states is that you are allowed to be out of the country for 212 days out of any 12 month period. Why do they make it this confusing? Who knows? It's the government.

Then, if you do stay out of the country for longer than that period, and return to Ontario, you must be in the province for 3 months before coverage is reinstated. The ridiculous thing about this is that Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland do not have any waiting period.

Even more ridiculous is that your absence from Canada is administered by the Federal Government. There are no ties between the Federal Border Services Agency and OHIP. We have a friend who works for Canada Border Services and they told us there would be no way for OHIP to know that you have been out of the country. Personally, I have never been asked by any medical administration on a doctors visit if I have been out of country.

You are however allowed a one time absence from Ontario for up to two years, and still be able to have your medical coverage reinstated immediately upon your return. This is a once in a lifetime allowance and you must tell OHIP in advance that you are leaving the country.

And lastly, we're not really concerned. Perhaps we won't return to Canada anyhow. And if we do, I'm confident that we'll be able to get medical services if we need them.

Anyhow, I'm off to pick up Ruth at Halifax airport. Her plane lands at 9:30am! Then tomorrow, we're taking Sherman on a two week trip to Cape Breton Island!


  1. Thanks for the explanation on the medical coverage..I was curious about that too.

  2. Will be nice to have Ruth back home, on the road and enjoying the awesome scenery of Cape Breton.

    Good article on Medical coverage, but I believe now with OHIP we can get an absence of up to two years every five years.

  3. Glad to hear the better half will be back home they back on the road.

  4. In our case we've been "out of Ontario" since some time in 2008.
    Not concerned.
    I really don't think they have the first clue whether we come back to Canada from time to time or not. Like you said, the Feds don't really communicate your comings and goings to the Provinces, and certainly not to OHIP (although I think they changed the name at some point, but I still call the capital of China "Peking", not Beijing, or whatever)
    Usually the problem lies in trying to get in to see the (Canadian) doctor if need be during the time that we're home. It was easier when he had a small practise, but now he's part of a larger group, and the nitwits at reception can barely pick up the phone, let alone understand that we're calling from Austria. My wife just makes sure she sees a doc here in Wienerland. Most of them speak passable English, which tends to be the biggest stumbling block. I chose not to be her constant interpreter when it comes to doctor visits.

  5. Thanks for explaining this. Still not sure I understand it - like you said, it's the government. Have a fun reunion with Ruth.

  6. I would be curious to know more about the Alberta rules, any idea where I could find this information?

    I hate seeing the doctor. takes so long!!!

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  9. we are from British Columbia and here it is 180 consider yourselves lucky!..212..pretty good!..I always thought it was because medical is only good for that long..and then there is the CPP and the good old tax man!

  10. Karen and Al...No problem!

    George and Suzie...Looking forward to Cape Breton. Hmm, will have to look that up, I like the idea of being absent for 2 years every 5 years.

    Kenny and Angela...Thanks!

    Bob...We agree with you. I will have to book an appointment for my yearly physical (which will actually be my 2 year physical)in the next month or so, so that can see the doctor when we get back in the Ottawa area in August/September. You have to book these things about 3 months ahead of time.

    Jim and Sandie...Anything the government does, doesn't make sense!

    Life's a Journey...You will have to go on the webpage for Albert's health insurance to find out what their rules are.

    Ray...We got your numbers in! Blogger has been having issues with the comments. If I use Internet Explorer, I keep coming up as anonymous as well. When I use Chrome I don't have that problem.

    Sue and Doug...Maybe it's because you generally have milder weather out there. Spring usually starts earlier so no need to be away as long. Just kidding, lol! It's national healthcare, but each province is different. They should make it uniform across Canada.

    Kevin, Ruth and Whiskey


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