The Star Vancouver Edition |
Just a day after Ontario’s move to axe out-of-country emergency health coverage came into effect, a group representing Canadian “snowbirds” said it will fight the change in court.
Arguing the change violates both federal law and provisions of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the Canadian Snowbird Association is now asking for a judicial review.
“Portability is enshrined in the Canada Health Act,” said Evan Rachkovsky, director of research and communications for the association. “These people worked their entire lives and paid into the system and should be receiving those benefits for out-of-country emergency service.”
The program provided up to $400 a day for emergency in-patient care and up to $50 a day for outpatient services. That ended Dec. 31, making Ontario the only province that does not to provide some coverage for residents outside of Canada.
The Ford government has said the program was inefficient, costing taxpayers almost $3 million a year to deliver $9 million in coverage, and that the reimbursement rate was low compared to users’ actual medical bills.
Following an initial outcry from seniors, the province postponed the cancellation to the new year and has since started a new program to provide travelling dialysis patients with $210 per treatment, a fraction of what it costs in the U.S.
Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office had no comment Thursday on the court challenge, but said “the Out-of-Country Traveller’s Program, which spends a third of its funding on administration costs alone, has not historically provided Ontarians with meaningful travel coverage.”
Spokesperson Hayley Chazan also said “the program’s coverage is very limited with five cents of every dollar claimed. Fully 95 per cent of claims are paid directly to insurance companies. With this limited coverage and low reimbursement rate, OHIP-eligible Ontarians who do not purchase private travel health insurance can be left with catastrophically large bills to pay.”
The government, she added, “has always strongly encouraged individuals to purchase additional travel health insurance so they are adequately covered every time they leave Ontario to travel abroad.”
Both the federal government and the snowbird association have raised concerns that private health costs will increase as a result of the change.
“Snowbirds” — seniors who fly south in the winter months to avoid the cold in Canada — “may need coverage for the duration for any conditions they may have. Those premiums could be thousands of dollars” and make travel unaffordable for those living on a fixed income,” Rachkovsky said.
The provincial auditor has made a number of suggestions to streamline the program, including offering a daily flat rate for emergency coverage, rather than a range of $200 to $400.
The non-profit snowbird association represents more than 115,000 Canadians, including more than 50,000 Ontarians.
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NEW YORK, 2 January 2020 – Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ), a leading global provider of housing and lifestyle solutions that support, protect and connect major consumer purchases, today announced the appointment of Paul Cosgrove as president of its Canadian operations, effective immediately. Cosgrove succeeds Robert “Bob” Zanussi, who, after 16 years with Assurant, is retiring as President and CEO, Canada. Zanussi will remain with the business through January 30, 2020 to ensure a smooth transition.
During his 25-year career at Assurant, Cosgrove has held various leadership roles, with oversight of the Connected Living, Global Auto and Financial Services businesses. During Cosgrove’s tenure, he developed the sales optimization team to support the growth of the mobile business and led the creation of strategic internal organizational offices to better serve client implementations and improve business processes.
Cosgrove, who was previously vice president, business development and client management, will report to Keith Meier, president, International.
“Paul is a highly accomplished leader. His outstanding skills in supporting our client relationships and his vision for growth, both of the business and our people, positions him well for his new role as president, Assurant Canada,” said Keith Meier. “With his deep auto, connected living and financial services experience, he will continue to focus on how we best serve our clients and their customers.”
Commenting on his new role, Paul Cosgrove said, “It’s an exciting time to lead the Canadian business, as we continue to focus on providing excellent service and market-leading products to our clients and their customers.”
“On behalf of everyone at Assurant, we want to thank Bob for everything he has accomplished during his 16 years with the company,” said Meier. “Bob has been instrumental in shaping Assurant Canada into the innovative business that it is today, and the Canadian business is well-positioned for continued business success and growth due to his leadership.”
Meier added, “These changes demonstrate our continued efforts to leverage our exceptional talent to service our clients and further accelerate our strong momentum across our business.”
Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ) is a leading global provider of housing and lifestyle solutions that support, protect and connect major consumer purchases. Anticipating the evolving needs of consumers, Assurant partners with the world’s leading brands to develop innovative products and services and to deliver an enhanced customer experience. A Fortune 500 company with a presence in 21 countries, Assurant offers mobile device solutions; extended service contracts; vehicle protection services; pre-funded funeral insurance; renters insurance and lender-placed homeowners insurance. The Assurant Foundation strengthens communities by supporting charitable partners that help protect where people live and can thrive, connect with local resources, inspire inclusion and prepare leaders of the future.
Learn more at assurant.com
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The excerpted article was written by Ben Cousins CTVNews.ca
TORONTO — An injured veteran had her insurance benefits temporarily pulled just days before Christmas after she says Manulife mistakenly determined she was capable of working.
Kelsi Sheren served in Afghanistan in 2009 and was medically released from the Canadian military in 2011. She founded the jewelry company Brass and Unity in 2016, but says she does not take a paycheque from the business and instead uses it as a way of coping with her post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m not employable and that’s why I do what I do,” she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
“I’m just the face of it, because it’s my story that the company’s built on,” she added. “This is my therapy. This isn’t anything else.”
Sheren said she recently received a call from Manulife, where the representative told her that her insurance payments would be taken away because it appeared she had a successful business.
“I won’t be able to pay my mortgage and I have a three-year-old son right before Christmas,” she said on Monday.
Sheren receives payments through Manulife’s Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP), which offers income protection to military members who are released for medical reasons or who qualify as being “totally disabled.” The plan is also designed to provide skills training to military members with the goal of obtaining gainful employment.
“We pay into this. We’re owed this,” Sheren said. “They put all these stipulations on you and if you don’t follow them, they drop just you. That’s how quick it happens.”
After CTVNews.ca reached out to Manulife, Sheren was informed that her benefits would be reinstated, but only until the New Year, where they would then be “re-evaluated.”
In a phone interview, Manulife spokesperson Shabeen Hanifa said the company has been in contact with Sheren, but is unable to comment on the situation.
“We strive to do everything within our powers to serve our customers and we have been in ongoing contact with this particular plan member to provide the appropriate assistance,” she said. “We do take the responsibility of protecting the privacy of our customers very seriously and so we can’t discuss the specific details of any individual.”
Brass and Unity offers a variety of fashion accessories, but is most known for creating bracelets and necklaces featuring recycled shell casings. Twenty per cent of net profits are sent to veterans and charities that support veterans, while the remainder goes back into the company.
On Tuesday, Brass and Unity was featured on the CBS daytime television program “The Doctors.”
Sheren believes Manulife cut her SISIP payments because these television appearances and her public persona make it look like she gets paid by a successful business, while her medical records and tax returns indicate otherwise.
“They Googled me and made their decision based off of outside perception of what social media looks like, instead of looking at my doctor’s eight years of paper work,” she said.
Sheren said that while she can handle this situation, losing these payments could be life-threatening for some of her fellow veterans who are in a worse position.
“I’ve got enough of a support system and fortunately I have that, a lot of people don’t,” she said. “This is a chronic problem that nobody talks about.”
“What if this was somebody that (Manulife) called and did this to and they had nowhere to go?”