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Friday, 26 October 2012

How far will AHCIP travel with me?

Recently we looked at what basic AHCIP coverage offers Albertan residents in terms of in province services. Today we wanted to give an overview of what AHCIP coverage offers Albertans during their travels outside of the province.

Under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) and the Hospitals Act, residents of Alberta are covered for physician and hospital services both within in Alberta, as well as in most other provinces. For this reason, Albertans should always carry their health cards with them. That said, though, such coverage is minimal (when you consider the types of medical emergencies that are common during travel), so Alberta Health really recommends that you seek additional coverage when planning a trip in order to cover unforeseen costs.

Physician visits when traveling within Canada
With the exception of Quebec, AHCIP will automatically travel with you to all provinces and territories when it comes to physician visits. So, for example, if you come down with bronchitis when you're in Saskatchewan and you need to see a general practitioner about it, AHCIP will cover that. The office will ask for your card (which is why you should carry it with you at all times) and charge the visit directly to your AHCIP number. If you find yourself facing a similar situation in Quebec, expect to be billed. That said, you should retain proof of payment for when you return home, as you may submit a claim to AHCIP in order to be reimbursed. You should be aware that the amount you get back is based on the rates set by the province where you were seen.

Hospital visits when traveling within Canada
Similarly to physician visits, with the exception of Quebec, AHCIP will automatically travel with you to all provinces and territories when it comes to hospital visits. However, such services must be provided in a publicly funded facility. Any services received in a private facility will not be covered. Additionally, transport services are not covered either. If you should require an air lift ambulance, you're looking at thousands of dollars of uncovered transport costs. Actual coverage at the hospital won't do much to relieve you if getting there is an issue. Moreover, you should assume that everything associated with your hospital visit will automatically be covered in full. The rate of coverage for inpatient services is $100 per day, and for outpatient services it is $50 per day. If your diagnostics, like bloodwork and CT scans, exceed this this amount, you won't be covered by AHCIP in full.

Traveling outside of Canada
AHCIP coverage for Albertans traveling outside of Canada is extremely limited. If, for example, you were to see a physician in the US during a trip to one of the states, AHCIP would reimburse you only for the amount that a similar visit would cost in Alberta. You should aware that there may be a huge disparity between what the Albertan rate paid to physicians is compared to the rate charged by the physician you visit during your travels. The same holds true for emergency hospital services. Once again, AHCIP will reimburse you $100 (in Canadian funds, of course) per day for inpatient services and $50 per day for outpatient visits with a limit of one visit per day. Compare that with an actual cost of $1625 to $2025 per day, as is the range of average daily rates for hospital visits in the US.

In light of these factors, and given how low the rates are for traveler's insurance, you really can't afford to travel without it.

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