Check your medical coverage before crossing the border: Pacific Blue Cross

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says details are still being worked out on when exactly the U.S. will reopen its land border to fully vaccinated Canadians next month. Melissa Duggan on the lingering travel questions.


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Next month’s reopening of land borders has some Canadians wondering how much medical coverage they have should they test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S.

But not all travel insurance is the same. That’s why Adrian Bois with Pacific Blue Cross says it’s important to be aware of health advisories in affect at their destinations. Travelers should also familiarize themselves with their insurance policies.

“We do offer a free health check, the Apple Health Check system, specifically brought in to help people in planning their trips, whether that’s in the U.S. or anywhere else,” he says.

“The best practice is always investigate and know before you go.”

He adds pent up travel demand is already high.

“We’ve seen this in our research. We’ve also seen about a 50 per cent intent to purchase travel insurance for those that want to travel, so people are thinking ahead, at least from a health protection and health security perspective.”

The Pacific Blue Cross offers coverage for COVID-19 for people who are fully vaccinated, he adds. Under that plan, anyone who tests positive while they’re away would have full coverage without limitation.

When the U.S. border reopens on Nov. 8, Canadians will still be required to provide a negative PCR test to come home.

PCR tests can cost you more than $200, which could dissuade some travelers from crossing over. The cost of the test is not covered by insurance.

Even so, a recent survey by Pacific Blue Cross found six of 10 people in B.C. hope to cross the border again before January.

Cindy Hollinsworth with Whatcom County Health Department specializes in managing communicable diseases. She points anyone looking to get vaccinated towards the county’s website, where there’s a full list of testing sites, but warns them they won’t get their results the same day.

“Really the best thing to do for people coming for day trips is get tested in Canada before they come down so they have a test to take back up with them,” she said.

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It can take up to 72 hours to get results depending on the volume of testing, she warns.

“The most important thing is people don’t come in for day trips, and they get tested in Canada before they come down so that they don’t get stuck down here with additional expenses overnight or something, waiting for test results to come back,” she added.

Hollinsworth also suggests booking your appointment for community testing well in advance, as the site doesn’t accept walk-ins.

Canadian health insurance isn’t accepted there, and the cost of a PCR test is $180 with a 25 per cent discount for booking online.

She admits she’s worried her site will be over-run with Canadians trying to get tested at the same time as Americans.

“We’re working with the governor’s office and the State Department of Health to see if we can identify other testing resources for our county,” she said.

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