Proposed OHIP change for travel benefits could raise costs for plan sponsors: CLHIA

In response to proposed amendments to a regulation under Ontario’s Health Insurance Act, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association is suggesting employers providing group travel insurance may start paying more for these products.

The proposed change, set for Oct. 1, 2019, will result in no provincial coverage for medical emergencies that occur out of the country. In a letter to the ministry of health and long-term care, Joan Weir, the CLHIA’s director of health and disability policy, noted Ontarians should check the coverage provided by their workplace benefits.

“At a time when employers and Ontarians are shouldering an increased burden of health-care costs, this could be a cause for concern.”

Read: A look at the challenges of an increasingly mobile workforce

A lack of understanding about the rate of reimbursement through OHIP has led many in the province to take the risk of travelling out of country without sufficient coverage, stated the letter, highlighting travel health claims for both employer-sponsored and individual plans totalled more than $360 million in 2017.

As a result, the CLHIA is encouraging the ministry to consider a number of recommendations to ensure the change takes place smoothly. It suggested the insurance industry, including group benefits providers, works with the government to develop and implement a communication plan. “Insurers will need to modify contracts and processes to accommodate the proposed change,” wrote Weir.

Read: What plan members need to know about out-of-country coverage

The CLHIA also suggested the government clarify whether the date of implementation means the date a claim is started (date of service) or the date when all claims will start to be denied. “Given the above, we would strongly suggest implementation be delayed until early 2020.”

The organization said it looks forward to working in coordination with the ministry to ensure this transition occurs smoothly, and that ”Ontarians with private insurance, individual or sponsored by an employer, will not experience disruption.”