There are still a large number of Canadians who don’t buy private health insurance when they travel out of the country. Some are the 18 to 24-year olds who think they are invincible, but some 10 to 15 percent of mature and elderly travelers don’t buy it either. It is the latter group that is most puzzling because they should know better.
Travel insurance is accessible through banks, credit unions, member organizations, brokers, insurance companies, auto associations, thousands of outlets: you can hardly scan the pages of a publication for seniors that doesn’t have some ad for travel insurance.
In addition, every federal and provincial government website that deals with travel or international affairs urges all travellers to get insurance for any out-of-country travel. So do most travel agents. Yet the message goes unheeded and often the result is a stay in a foreign hospital that costs more than the traveller can pay.
Some elderly travelers assume that because they are going back to visit relatives in “the old country” they will be taken care of in case of emergency since they were once citizens of that country. But that is not true, and they will be treated like any other foreign tourist—either provide proof of adequate health insurance, or cash on the spot—a valid credit card will do.