RAMQ coverage when travelling
Does the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) cover our out-of-province medical expenses? Yes, but the RAMQ only pays for care that is covered in Quebec and at Quebec rates.
Therefore, having an emergency medical insurance is strongly recommended. Medical bills are usually much higher elsewhere!
In fact, the insurance company you have will request a reimbursement of part of the costs from RAMQ and will pay the difference. The latter can represent several thousand dollars.
Many credit cards come with excellent insurance. Then, most of them are valid simply by being a card holder.
RAMQ coverage at home
Contrary to popular belief, the RAMQ does not cover all Quebecers. To maintain eligibility for RAMQ, a person cannot be absent from Quebec for more than 183 days in a calendar year (i.e. from January 1 to December 31).
These 183 days are cumulative.
The RAMQ has set up an absence calculator on its website.
In addition, the RAMQ can claim retroactively the total amount of care received in Quebec if you lose your eligibility for the calendar year in question.
So that includes all treatments, even those you had before you left on your trip!
We are not used to seeing hospital statements, but they can run into the thousands of dollars very quickly.
Exceptions to the "presence in Quebec" rule
Certain situations allow for exemption from this regulation.
In fact, if you are unable to return to Quebec due to a long-term hospitalization, you will retain your eligibility for RAMQ. The latter will ask you to provide a medical certificate.
Then, every seven years, you can waive the attendance rule without consequence, regardless of the reason for the trip. To take advantage of the seven-year period, you must inform the RAMQ.
Finally, when you leave Quebec for reasons related to studies, internships or work, you remain covered. Depending on the situation, various supporting documents will be required.
In all cases, you must notify the RAMQ of your absence in order to get the forms to fill.
Tips to keep your RAMQ eligibility
For those who want to go for a long time, try to spread your trip over two different calendar years.
Here is an example: travel from October 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022 (92 days in 2021 + 120 days in 2022 for a total of 212 days)
Finally, only stays of more than 21 consecutive days are taken into account. So you can also make several short trips without any problems.
No one is immune to accidents or illness, whether at home or while travelling. By having a good emergency medical care insurance and respecting the RAMQ rules, you can leave (and return) with peace of mind!