Ontario launching program to fund out-of-country dialysis services

Government of Ontario press release – Every Ontarian deserves the opportunity to safely travel abroad. That’s why Ontario is launching a new program to fund out-of-country dialysis services, ensuring that Ontarians living with kidney failure can continue to have access to the care they need when traveling outside of Canada.

“Our government listened to Ontarians on dialysis about the need to preserve and protect their ability to safely travel and work abroad,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This new program to fund out-of-country dialysis services will ensure hemodialysis patients can plan trips confident they can access the medically necessary services they rely on.”

Starting January 1/2020, this new program will be operated by the Ontario Renal Network with funding from the government and patients will receive the same reimbursement rates as currently provided through existing programs. The launch of this new program will coincide with the wind-down of the inefficient Out-of-Country Travellers Program.

In 2018, Ontario’s Auditor General reported that the province’s Out-of-Country Travellers Program has had long-standing issues. The program spends a third of its funding on administration alone with 90 percent of its payments going directly to the private travel industry, which submits claims on behalf of their insured clients. As well, with low reimbursement rates, Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.

“Simply put, the Out-of-Country Travellers Program was an irresponsible use of taxpayer money,” said Elliott. “The program does little in the way of providing meaningful travel coverage or value to taxpayers, especially when private insurance plans are readily available and offer the level of coverage everyone should have when traveling.”

Insured Ontario residents will continue to receive coverage for physician and hospital services when visiting or moving to another Canadian province or territory. Travel health insurance is currently provided through many workplace plans and credit cards. Ontarians traveling abroad continue to be encouraged to purchase the appropriate travel insurance coverage in the event emergency health care is needed out of the country.

Quick Facts

  • The ministry is providing $700,000 annually to the Ontario Renal Network to establish and operate the new program that will fund out-of-country dialysis services.
  • The ministry currently spends approximately $2.8 million a year to administer the Out-of-Country Travellers Program, which pays about $9 million in claims annually.

Additional Resources