Airplane in flight

Traveling This Winter?

3 Quick Tips Before You Go

Airplane in flight

Planning vacation time over the next few months to get away from the cold and enjoy some R&R? Below are some updates about OHIP and useful tips about emergency medical coverage to be aware of when planning your trip!

The Risk
Getting medical care out of your home city is expensive. Hospital bills could run over $100,000- ouch! That can ruin any trip. Did you know…..

  • OHIP no longer covers ANY out of country medical expenses for Canadians
  • Hospitals in some countries can refuse to treat patients who don’t have the travel coverage or the money to pay for their care

We’ve all heard the stories, and have been told why emergency medical travel insurance is so important. Securing the right kind of medical coverage can mean saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Already have a group plan with travel coverage?
Getting coverage through your credit card?

Be aware that emergency medical travel insurance guidelines have changed in the last few years.

If you have had any change in your medication, travel insurers are stricter than ever in what they will and will not cover. Here are 3 tips to make sure you have the coverage you need:

1. Secure the right type of travel insurance for your situation. It is best to call the insurer before you travel, ask them:

  • what is covered
  • what is not covered
  • what is their stability clause, which means what is the time period they require you to have had no changes in your medical condition. (Some companies have a 7 day stability clause and some have a 90 day stability clause- that makes a big difference!)

Sometimes you may need a doctor’s note stating your medical condition is stable and you are approved for travel. Other times you may need a special travel medical plan that covers higher risk situations, instead of relying on standard travel coverage that you get through your group plan or credit card

2. Carry your Travel Insurance Card and copy of your policy with you and leave key information with family members at home. Should you need emergency medical attention while away, that is not the time to start looking for your coverage details! As well, make sure to leave a copy with family members not traveling with you, including your itinerary and contact information so they can locate you wherever you are in the world.

3. Set up a Power of Attorney (POA) for healthcare and finances naming at least 2 POA’s. This is an important safeguard, especially if you travel often. It is important to name not only your partner, who usually is traveling with you, but also name another trusted friend or family member who is not traveling with you. Why? If you are abroad with your partner, and need assistance or medical records from home, it will be a lot easier to get the help you need if someone back home is also named POA.

Taking these few precautions does not take a lot of time, but it can make a big difference should you ever need medical care while traveling!

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. You can reach her at aviva@cpfg.com or 416-545-5310. 

Planning Your Summer Vacation Without Travel Insurance?

The 5 Costliest Medical Emergency Claims to Be Aware of

A few weeks ago, my nephew Nathan, his wife and five-year-old son Sean, came to visit me from Baltimore, MD. I always recommend to family that they take out travel insurance before going on vacation, but somehow Nathan got busy and forgot to take care of this detail. On the last day of their visit, Sean fell down my stairs and blacked out for a minute. We called the ambulance and they went to Sick Kids to get him checked out. Thank G-d everything was ok, but this little trip cost Nathan over $800!

 

Have You Secured Proper Travel Insurance for Your Vacation?

Even when you do the best planning for everything to go smoothly, accidents and emergencies happen. It’s easier now to get travel coverage especially if you’re young and have no health issues as most credit card companies and airlines provide coverage. However, if you have any health issues or you’re above age 60, it’s even more important to make sure you have comprehensive travel coverage that will properly protect you while you’re away.
According to TuGo Emergency Medical Insurance Providers, the top 5 costliest emergency medical claims their travelers made in the last year were:

1. Abdominal Pain
2. Heart Attack
3. Respiratory Failure
4. Car accident
5. Pneumonia

( See chart below for more details on age of travelers and total cost of medical expenses)

Three important things to note:
Ages – Younger Canadians need protection too! Almost half of these large claims came from those under age 60.

Costs – Emergency medical costs are rising each year, the ones below ranged from $340,000 to over $2,000,000!

Hospital Stay – The average hospital stay is 10 days and this is extremely costly when you’re abroad.

Make sure this summer, you travel with the peace of mind that you and your family are properly protected while on vacation!

The 5 Costliest Medical Emergency Claims
(Courtesy TuGo.com)

 

5 costliest medical emergencies (courtesy tugo.com)

 

Do you have questions about travel, healthcare, and insurance coverage? Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010.

What Happens When Marijuana Becomes Legal in 2018?

Last year, Canada set in motion plans to legalize marijuana use by July 1, 2018. Ontario is the first province to announce its plans to sell and distribute recreational marijuana once it becomes legal. (Note: medical marijuana has been legal since 2015).

The proposed strategy would be to regulate marijuana providers and supervise quality control of the supply chain – similar to the regulation and control of alcohol and tobacco use.

So what does this mean for Canadians? Some of the most common questions I’m hearing are:

1. “Will I be able to purchase marijuana anywhere?”

No! Distribution and sale will only be legal if purchased through approved providers – exactly who would be able to sell marijuana in Canada is still being determined. So far, Ontario has announced plans to open 80 stand-alone stores by July 1, 2019.

2. “Can I grow or produce my own marijuana?”

No! It will still be illegal to:

  • Possess or distribute a budding or flowering plant
  • Possess or distribute more than 4 non-budding plants
  • Possessing more than 30 dried grams in public

3. “Once people buy marijuana, where can they smoke it?”
​​
Unlike regular cigarettes and cigars, consuming the drug will only be allowed in private residences. It will be prohibited in public spaces, cars or workplaces; users won’t be able to smoke in a park, or at their desk at work.

4. “What if I observe someone getting high at work?”

The government is asking employers across Canada to implement and/or update their workplace policies.  Recreational use of marijuana would be dealt in a similar manner to that of someone who comes to work drunk or behaves incorrectly in the work environment. In the event an employee is unclear on how to handle a situation at work, it’s important that they’re able to discuss this with their employer as soon as possible.

5. “What about employees who use marijuana for medical purposes?” 

The government is now requiring all employers to establish workplace policies to protect employers and employees. Medical marijuana laws are different than those for recreational users since it is necessary for health reasons, I will cover this issue in a future post.

Want to find out more about marijuana in the workplace and other healthcare issues?  Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

To learn more about the cannabis industry, check out Marcus Lemonis’ documentary on CNBC as he unfolds why cannabis production is booming across North America.

 

 

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. 

What Do YOU Live For?

It is the time of year we look back at what we’ve accomplished, and we set new goals for the New Year ahead. Manulife recently launched their new Vitality program- taking a positive spin on an old concept.

Watch this powerful video to get some motivation for the year ahead. #whatdoyoulivefor

 If you ask yourself these question every day would you…..
– Make different choices?
-Live a little smarter?
-Find ways to live healthier?

What steps are you going to take this coming year to make every moment special? How can we help you reach your goals? Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. You can reach her at aviva@cpfg.com or 416-545-5310.

The Money Pit: How Much Are YOU Paying For Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses?

Jeans filled with credit cards

How do you pay for your drug, dental and other medical expenses? 

If you are like many Canadians, you are either:

  • Paying all of your medical expenses out of pocket and hoping your accountant gets you a small tax break or
  • Paying out-of-pocket for deductibles or expenses not covered by an insured plan (like braces or major dental repairs) and groaning about it

Regardless of which scenario you identify with, there is a better way of paying for healthcare if you are self-employed!

If you answer yes to at least 2 of the following questions then a health reimbursement account may be a more tax efficient way for you to pay for your medical expenses:

  1. Are you without a health and dental plan?
  2. Do you have a spouse and or dependants?
  3. Do you have more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses?
  4. If you have a health and dental plan – do you have a cap on your drug coverage?

Aly’s Story
I met Aly at a fundraiser. Aly was a partner at her law firm, and had a group benefits plan through her small firm. Yet, she told me she was still paying almost $20,000 in additional medical expenses, not covered under her plan, expenses incurred mainly for her teenage kids.When I told her that I can show her how to avoid out-of-pocket medical expenses, she called me the very next day!

That is when I explained how a health reimbursement account works. Since Aly is self-employed, she can set up a health reimbursement account so that her business now pays for all of her medical expenses that are not covered by her group plan. Last year Aly saved over $7,000 in taxes with this simple strategy, using pre-tax business dollars to pay for her medical expenses – needless to say, Aly was thrilled!

So many self-employed professionals are not taking advantage of these types of structures to reduce their out-of-pocket medical expenses, simply because they’re too busy, too overwhelmed or aren’t aware of their options. They just charge it through and cringe at the bills when they arrive. Don’t let the lack of time or knowledge cost you unnecessary money. Keep more of your hard earned money and use it to enjoy life instead!

Want to find out how you can avoid out-of-pocket medical expenses and get the healthcare coverage you need? Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. You can reach her at aviva@cpfg.com or 416-545-5310. 

What Are You Waiting For?

Last week we learned that Michael Bublé is putting his career on hold because his son is battling liver cancer. Earlier in the year, the music world gathered at Gord Downie’s Tragically Hip farewell tour; Gord is battling brain cancer.These stories remind us that illness and death do not discriminate – young or old, rich or poor – it affects everyone of us.

Now is the Time 
We always think we have time to take care of the important things- but Michael and Gord would tell you otherwise (watch this interview with Gord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh96qMSDOH0 ). And especially for those of us who are self-employed, life can be very unpredictable. Taking care of the important things now, making sure you have solid healthcare coverage for yourself, your family and your business, will ensure that you and your loved ones have the means to deal with whatever medical issue comes into your life.

This blog is aimed at helping you understand the latest trends in health and healthcare in Canada today. As many of you have heard me say, the cost of healthcare is the biggest disrupter to our finances- what can you do to make sure you and your family are taken care of?

Michael Buble

Photo: Instagram

Although we have not yet found a way to prevent disease, medical advancements are such that Canadians today are surviving for years after their diagnoses, but their lives change dramatically. 1 in every 3 Canadians will be diagnosed with a Critical Illness before age 65, and half of those people will live 5 years past diagnoses. When a health issue arises, would you be able to get the care you need? Would you know where to turn to get help? Would you have the money you need not just to survive but to live life the way you want?

Won’t OHIP Take Care of Me?
According to Sunlife Financial more than 60% of Canadians between the ages of 20-50 do NOT have any critical illness coverage, Why? For one thing, many think the government will cover their healthcare costs- but that is far from true. With only a few exceptions, Canadians must pay for those costly drugs needed not just for terminal conditions like cancer, but also for more common chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, chronic pain and diabetes. What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Here are some tips, first steps you can take today:

  • Review your current healthcare coverage. Find out exactly what you are covered and not covered for. Most people I meet don’t know these details, but they are important to find out before you need any medical care. The main question is- how much drug coverage do you have?
  • Ask some hard questions.It’s not pleasant thinking about “what if” but it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive, you have more choices and better options when planning ahead. Some questions to ask:
    • “Who will take care of me should I be unable to take care of myself?” Setting up a Power Of Attorney for Health and Finances is key to making sure your wishes are followed
    •  “How will my family manage if I get sick?” Think about how much money you need monthly, and where would that come from
    • “Who will be in charge of my business?” Having money coming into your business should you not be able to manage things for a while can help, or having money to hire a replacement should you not be able to perform your duties
  • Crunch some numbers. Take a look at your savings and other assets, do you have enough to get you through a health crisis? Can insurance help you even in the short term? A lot has changed in the last few years; when was the last time you checked into:
    • critical illness insurance,
    • disability income protection,
    • long term care coverage and
    • health plans
Getting covered is more affordable than you think! Especially if you are self-employed, there are more possibilities than ever before to get the medical care you need. Would you rather pay a few hundred a month for insurance, or tens of thousands of dollars a month for medications?
Thinking about getting sick isn’t easy. But it’s necessary today in our world of rising healthcare costs. Awe head towards yearend and you set your goals for the coming year, put yourself, your family and your health at the top of the list.
                                                                       

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. You can reach her at aviva@cpfg.com or 416-545-5310.

Want to learn more about your health insurance options? Click here to request Aviva’s free report: Five Ways to Avoid Costly Out of Pocket Medical Expenses.