Medical Bills for Injuries Suffered on American Soil can be Hefty for Canadians

Best Law Firm

A day trip to the U.S. for some cross-border shopping or to catch a sports came could turn out to be one expensive trip in the event of  a medical emergency. This is because many people don’t think to purchase additional health or travel insurance for these quick trips.

According to travel agents and insurance brokers, little has changed since a 2011 RBC survey of people aged 18-34 found 44 per cent “rarely or never” purchased health insurance for travel to the U.S.

“They just feel very sure nothing is going to take place,” said 82-year-old Mae Youngman, president of Mae’s Travel. “To take the chance isn’t worth it. I know that myself.”

She’s living proof a little extra money up front can save a person from a lot of financial hardship down the road.

She has suffered an aneurysm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had her appendix removed in Sarasota, Fla., and broke her elbow in Mexico. In all three cases, she received out-of-country medical treatment, including a seven-hour operation and three-week hospital stay.

She said without additional insurance, she could not have paid for the treatment.
Mae Youngman

Mae Youngman has suffered an aneursym, had her appendix removed and broke her elbow outside of Canada but was covered through insurance each time. (CBC News)

Youngman estimates about half the people she books vacations for opt for travel insurance.

“I don’t know how they do it on their own, how they pay for it,” Youngman said.

Mike Outram is a Windsor, Ont., man who couldn’t. The gymnastics coach suffered a fall in a Michigan gym and is now a paraplegic.

When the injury happened, his medical care in the U.S. cost him $168,000 when all was said and done.

“And I really didn’t have anything done,” he said.

He never had insurance.

“Where’s the $168,000 going to come from to pay this bill?” he still asks. “It never really crossed my mind. Being on a border town you don’t really think about it. You don’t think, even going to a baseball game or getting on a bus, ‘how am I going to get in an accident?’ You can slip. You can be in a hospital in an instant.”

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) does pay for some out-of-province medical treatment, including some in the U.S.

OHIP pays up to $400 CAN per day in U.S. hospital costs, depending on level of care. The plan also reimburses outpatient visits at $50 CAN per day. And it reimburses physicians costs at the rate they would be paid in Ontario. If a U.S. physician charges more than a Ontario doctor for the same procedure, the Ontario patient pays the difference.
OHIP spokesperson Julie Ingo said the province spends $14 million a year reimbursing Ontarians who suffer medical emergencies out of province. Read the full story here.

Whatever serious personal injury you have suffered within Ontario or the United States, we will be able to assist you. Contact us for a consultation.