Member Benefits Advisory – Health Coverage While Travelling Abroad
This is just a reminder of some important things to consider about your health benefits if you plan to travel abroad in the near future.
Under your UVic benefit plan, you do have travel insurance coverage, but any claim made under this coverage is counted against your lifetime maximum of $1 million under Pacific Blue Cross. What this means is that a single catastrophic illness or injury in another country has the potential to use up most or all of your lifetime maximum. For instance, if you were in another country and required emergency surgery that cost $800,000, you would only have $200,000 worth of coverage left for the entire duration of your career at UVic. With this in mind, we advocate that before you travel abroad, you seek and obtain additional travel insurance through a first-payer plan.
A first-payer plan is one where that insurer pays first, up to the limits of its policy. Not all travel insurers offer first-payer plans, so make sure to enquire about this when purchasing additional travel insurance.
Other factors to consider:
- Expense Pre-Approval: Whether under your UVic plan or an additional plan, you will need to get pre-approval from the insurer(s) prior to incurring any costs. Insurance companies require contact by the insured traveller, or their family, in order to make arrangements for medical payments. Not contacting the insurer at the outset of needed medical care may result in non-payment of the claim.
- Pre-Existing Conditions: Travel insurers usually require that any pre-existing conditions be “stable” for a period of time before you travel. Because of this, you may find that the insurer will not cover pre-existing conditions that have not been considered by the insurer to be stable. As a result, your UVic coverage for those specific conditions would be in effect.
- Enhanced Travel Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions: For a higher price, you can purchase travel insurance that will cover pre-existing conditions. Therefore, if you have a pre-existing condition that has not been stable for the period of time required by the insurer, and you don’t want your lifetime coverage through UVic’s Blue Cross plan to be depleted, you may be able to purchase travel insurance that will cover the condition.
We hope this reminder provides some helpful insight into how your UVic benefit plan works when you are travelling outside of Canada. If you have any questions about the plan, please contact UVic’s benefits staff at 250-721-6522. If you have any feedback on the benefits plan for the Association to consider in preparing for our upcoming round of bargaining, please contact us at [email protected]!