04/24/2019 17:00 EDT | Updated 04/25/2019 06:20 EDT

Ontario PCs Propose Ending Health Coverage For Travellers Outside Canada

The government says Ontarians should get private insurance before they leave the country.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford sits next to Health Minister Christine Elliott during question period at Queen's Park in Toronto on July 31, 2018.

TORONTO — The Ontario government wants to end health coverage for Ontarians travelling out of the country.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care posted a proposed amendment to a regulation under the Health Insurance Act Wednesday.

The proposal would end Ontario's Out-of-Country (OOC) Travellers Program, which reimburses Ontarians for health-care costs they incur while travelling to a maximum of $200 a day for inpatient care and $50 a day for outpatient care.

The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) only ends up covering an average of five per cent of travellers' medical costs, the proposal says.

OHIP-eligible persons who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.Ministry proposal

"With this very limited coverage and the low reimbursement rates ... provided by the OOC Travellers Program, OHIP-eligible persons who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay because of OOC emergency medical care."

Ontarians travelling in other parts of Canada will continue to have coverage, the Ministry's proposal says, but those leaving the country should get private insurance before they leave.

A spokeswoman for Minister of Health Christine Elliott said the program spends a third of its funding on administration and does not provide meaningful coverage.

"Every year the ministry spends $2.8 million to administer approximately $9 million in claim payments," Hayley Chazan told HuffPost Canada in an email.

"On top of that, 90 per cent of the payments made through this program have [gone] directly to the private travel industry, which submits claims on behalf of their insured clients."

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Members of the public can comment on the proposal until Tuesday through a link at the bottom of the webpage.

The six-day window for consultation shows the government's disregard for the public, NDP health critic France Gélinas said in a statement.

"[Premier Doug] Ford's proposed change to OHIP coverage for Ontarians traveling out of country fits a disturbing pattern of this government bypassing public consultation as it tries to force through rapid changes to our health care system," she said.

Previously On HuffPost: