Author Topic: Health Insurance for Canadian Travelling Abroad  (Read 1578 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Location: Windsor, ON, Canada
Health Insurance for Canadian Travelling Abroad
« on: June 07, 2016, 01:39:43 PM »
We FIRE last fall and our plan is to travel to either Central America or Spain/Portugal for the winter of 2016. I've been researching health insurance options for our travels but haven't decided on which way to go yet.

Is there any other with experience in this area? I'm thinking it may be overkill given the pricing of health care in place like Costa Rica (based on other blogs), etc. Also, we are relatively young, both in 30's with a 4 year old.

We currently live in Ontario, Canada and find the 6 month maximum travel restriction outside the province to be a little ridiculous. If a person pays the Ontario annual health premium and income taxes than why restrict the amount of time someone can be away and still receive health care in Ontario.

Anyone with some experience in this area?


I've started blogging about my experience so far.


  • Stubble
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  • Location: NorCal
Re: Health Insurance for Canadian Travelling Abroad
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2016, 08:42:04 AM »
Health care is cheap in Central America (I live in Panama), but one hospital stay could really set you back. For anything major you'd need to go to a private hospital, and you could end up out tens of thousands of dollars. I suggest getting a high deductible international plan to cover anything catastrophic and then paying out of pocket for the rest.

Be aware that private hospitals will likely ask for cash up front before even agreeing to treat you, so be sure you have a credit card handy if you're in a car accident. Otherwise you will end up at the public hospital, which has very limited resources and may not be able to treat you.

There are so many expats here without insurance who get into trouble because they can't afford to pay a major private hospital bill. Every month or so people are taking up collections to help with someone's bill.


  • Stubble
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Re: Health Insurance for Canadian Travelling Abroad
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2016, 02:30:23 PM »
We've been away from Ontario for 4 years. Right before we departed, we applied for an extension of OHIP coverage, which gives you 2 years for vacation purposes:

After two years we went the private insurance route. There are some countries (like SE Asia) where it will be cheaper just to pay per visit instead of purchasing coverage.


  • Bristles
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  • Location: Halifax, NS
Re: Health Insurance for Canadian Travelling Abroad
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2016, 11:23:11 AM »
I recently had this exact same problem. Further it was complicated by the fact that at the start of a big year of travel, I also switched residence from AB to NS, and NS said that despite having moved 5 months prior, because I hadn't spent 3 continuous months in province (due to trips), I wasn't eligible for gov't insurance. After that got squared away, I let them know I'd be gone for a while.

I ended up going with

For a 32/m with 5k deductible, was about $400 for the year, with exclusions for treatment in US/Singapore maybe Canada, and a few other expensive places.  Was basically just the "holy shit" insurance for getting cancer or air ambulance, and moreso because it was a requirement for a tour I was doing. Is designed for expats, long term vacationers/snowbirds, basically anyone who's away from home a lot, and doesn't fit into the insurance industry's typical pigeon hole. Fair warning, I never had to make a claim, so I can't speak to what's arguably the most importance facet of a policy.

Make sure you inform the health people, otherwise your provincial coverage could lapse, and most third party insurance places I looked at said if that happens, then you'll only be covered for a grand total of 25k, which is basically like having no insurance at all.

As an aside the whole situation is incredibly frustrating. I researched it, and transient people, retirees wandering around the country in an RV, people who take a year off work to explore the country, despite paying taxes your whole life, and perhaps having never even left Canada, it is perfectly possible to end up with no health coverage.

In the UK/Australia where gap years are a lot more common, there are literally hundreds of companies offering reasonably priced travel insurance for periods of 1-2 years. Blows me away how they're so far behind here.