Last Updated: Friday, April 30, 2010 | 2:08 PM ET
Travellers who do not have proof of insurance coverage may be required
to obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company when they
arrive.Travellers who do not have proof of insurance coverage may be
required to obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company when
they arrive. (Scott Heppell/Associated Press)
Canadians travelling to Cuba will be required to present proof of health
insurance to enter the country as of Saturday.
To meet the requirement, travellers should have travel insurance that
covers medical expenses, the Cuban government said.
"Upon arrival, travellers may be required to present an insurance
policy, insurance certificate, or medical assistance card valid for the
period of their stay in Cuba," Foreign Affairs says in its travel report
for the country.
"Those who do not have proof of insurance coverage may be required to
obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company when they arrive."
Provincial health insurance plans do not provide direct coverage for
out-of-country emergency medical services.
Supplemental health insurance urged
Provincial plans may cover only part of the costs and will not pay the
bill up front as Cuba requires, Foreign Affairs noted.
"It is therefore recommended that travellers purchase supplemental
health insurance," the department said.
Canadians visitors carrying only provincial government health insurance
cards will have to pay Cuban hospitals, doctors or other providers in
full at the time of treatment and then seek reimbursement from their
provincial plans, which normally cover only a fraction of the charges.
Some private insurers also require the traveller to pay costs up front
and be reimbursed later, Foreign Affairs noted.
All health insurance policies will be recognized except those issued by
U.S. insurance companies, which cannot provide coverage in Cuba.
Provincial health plans also strongly urge residents to purchase
supplemental travel insurance for any trips they make out of the
country. Provincial plans also do not cover the cost of ground ambulance
in Cuba or repatriation back to Canada on commercial airlines or air
"People do need to have supplementary insurance, either purchasing
coverage through their employer or employer benefit plan or on a credit
card," Martha Turnbull, president of the Travel Health Insurance
Association of Canada (THIA), said in an interview.
The association also encouraged Canadians to get a letter from their
insurance company or employer stating they do have coverage.
Turnbull suggested Canadians also consider insuring their travel
arrangements since getting home early from Cuba or cancelling a trip can