Canadian Health Insurance for Tourists
July 7, 2011 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Help! Just arrived in Canada for a short trip but forgot to buy tourist health insurance before arriving...

I've looked into the insurance plan (Blue Cross Canada) which I used on a previous trip but if I buy it today, this only kicks in after 3 days by their rules, because I didn't buy it before I arrive. I am only staying through the weekend so that means that plan would only cover 1 day and 1 morning of my trip.... do I have any alternatives for getting insurance coverage for the all of my trip?

Suggestions much appreciated!
posted by Bwithh to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

at this point, it's only 3 days
posted by Oktober at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: trying to be responsible and not tempt fate here...
posted by Bwithh at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2011

posted by killdevil at 3:10 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the inside edge of civilization. The consequences you're afraid of are not something we let happen to people here, no matter where they're from.
posted by mhoye at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]

My boyfriend backpacked through Europe when he was in college with only his US health insurance protecting him. He got deathly ill in Romania and had to fly to Germany to get competent medical care. A (short) hospital stay was required.

Several weeks later, the German hospital sent a bill to his US address. He filed it through his US insurance company, and they covered part of it.

Even if something does happen (and it's really unlikely), it won't be the end of the world.
posted by phunniemee at 3:15 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Always worth checking, but my US Health insurance covers Canadian hospitals as out-of-network as long as you are on a regular tourist visit (not student, work visa, etc.)
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:17 PM on July 7, 2011

My US health insurance has always covered Canada emergencies (my family has visited up there more or less yearly my whole life). I don't know if they'd cover like... a routine physical, but ask your regular health insurance what would happen if you needed a Canadian hospital trip before you worry about buying travel insurance.
posted by brainmouse at 3:18 PM on July 7, 2011

In addition to the great answers above, even if you DO need medical care while in Canada (and your odds at this point are against it, unless you are doing high-risk activities) ... the costs are quite low compared to the U.S. Depending on where you are, a short doctor visit is $40(SK) to $100(Van, BC). Meds run about a third or less of U.S. prices. And even emergency room care is much less ... so more than likely you would not go bankrupt if something did happen. (I spent 11 hours in the ER of a major university hospital, had IV, xrays, CTscan, and treatment, all for under $1k). Just to put it into perspective.
posted by batikrose at 4:22 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing the just be careful route. When I lived in Germany, without German medical insurance, I paid a whopping 149 Euros for multiple doctor's appointments, an MRI, and treatment for a balky knee. I was able to file a claim with my American insurance and they reimbursed me the full cost. With my American health insurance in America, I would have paid triple that for the same treatment.
posted by Nackt at 6:11 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

AAA/CAA often have plans available that can be purchased online.
posted by peagood at 6:12 PM on July 7, 2011

You can purchase plans online that start immediately.

Those above are correct in that if something happens, it may not be the end of the world, but I spent two years working with tourists, and the differences in the experiences of those that have insurance and those that don't when something does go wrong is pretty radical.

Honestly, if you can find a reputable one online it's worth it. No one ever expects to get sick or to be in an accident. And if you need a medical evac to get home, it could set you back thousands.
posted by scrute at 7:59 PM on July 7, 2011

batikrose writes "And even emergency room care is much less ... so more than likely you would not go bankrupt if something did happen."

An ER visit for OOP patients in BC for example is $750. Tests would be on top of that but it is much cheaper than equivalent care in the US.
posted by Mitheral at 8:07 PM on July 7, 2011

i never knew travelers health insurance existed... i'd just file through my own carrier and see what they reimburse...
posted by fozzie33 at 6:55 AM on July 8, 2011

I am a bit tired to read fine print, but I think World Nomads is one of the few policies that can be activated once you are already out of your country, so they might be worth a try.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2011

Response by poster: thanks for all your tips!
posted by Bwithh at 11:26 PM on July 8, 2011

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