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Industry News > Update on Cuban Travel Insurance Requirements

Update on Cuban Travel Insurance Requirements

posted on 6:52 AM, April 26, 2010
April, 26--In a follow-up to its earlier announcement that, effective May 1, 2010 all visitors to Cuba would need to have medical insurance to cover their stay, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA) has received confirmation from the Government of Cuba Tourism Bureau in Toronto that Cuban authorities will accept either Provincial Government Health Insurance cards or proof of private travel insurance as sufficient to meet this requirement. Those without such proof would be required to buy insurance from Cuban companies at ports of entry.

A tourism bureau representative confirmed that the Cuban Government is aware that Provincial Health Insurance Plans, such as OHIP, do not provide direct coverage for out-of-country emergency medical services, and that visitors with only Provincial Government Health Insurance would be required to pay Cuban hospitals, clinics, doctors and other providers in full, at the time of treatment.  The Canadian tourist would then have to file for reimbursement with their Provincial Health Insurance Plan and they could expect only a small portion of their claim to be reimbursed.  THIA reminds Canadians that Canadian Provincial Government Health Insurance Plans reimburse based on their re-payment schedule for services provided in the home province, which in essence means only a fraction of the cost of medical care outside of Canada would be reimbursed. 

The announcement that Cuba would accept Provincial Government Health cards as proof of insurance has prompted some of Canada’s vacation and tourism operators to imply that additional travel health insurance was not mandatory for meeting the May 1, 2010 medical coverage requirement, which may technically be correct. However, some of these announcements have left the mistaken impression that Provincial Government Health Insurance will cover the cost of emergency medical services in Cuba, which could result in travelers paying out of pocket.

Important facts to consider for Canadians who elect not to purchase supplemental travel emergency medical insurance:

  • Canadian Provincial Health Insurance Plans, such as OHIP, RAMQ  do not make direct payments to out-of-country hospitals, doctors or clinics
  • In-patient hospitalization is reimbursed at varying rates, depending on the Provincial Health Plan in effect for that consumer and can range from $200.00 to $400.00 per day for in-patient or intensive care, however, the cost of these services in Cuba exceeds these amounts
  • Wait times for reimbursement by the Provincial Health Plans varies by province, but ranges between 90 days and 18 months
  •  Provincial Plans do not cover the cost of ground ambulance in Cuba or evacuation back to Canada by commercial airline or air ambulance
  • Many outpatient clinics and lab services, or other incidental charges related to out-of-country emergency medical care are not covered by the Provincial Health Plans
Therefore, it is wise and strongly recommended that travelers buy supplemental private travel health insurance before leaving Canada. To imply otherwise provides a disservice to Canadian travelers , who may end up with significant unwanted costs.