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Out-of-province/country health insurance

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  • May 17, 2019 6:24 PM | Anonymous

    - original article, Your $10,000 out of province emergency medical coverage, by Mike Hedden, Fall 2014

    MURA has devoted several articles over the past few years to this topic, with a particular focus on the value of the $10,000 out of province emergency medical coverage for retirees. These articles can all be found on the MURAnews -- Benefits page. A further clarification on the $10,000 emergency medical coverage can be found at McMaster retiree $10,000 out of province / country emergency medical coverage.

    In summary, the following are the key features of your $10,000 out of province emergency medical coverage:

    • This coverage, which is managed for the University by Sun Life, will pay 100% of the cost of qualified emergency medical services up to a life time maximum of $10,000, regardless of any pre-existing conditions you may have.
    • The plan covers you for trips of up to 30 days. This coverage is available to both you and your spouse. Your spouse’s coverage continues even after your death.
    • This coverage can be used as a first payer on an emergency out-of-province/country claim, i.e. when purchasing additional private insurance coverage with a deductible; you can use the $10,000 to coordinate with the private insurance. This can reduce your premium by up to 45%, although not all policies offer a deductible. Cost should not be the only factor in deciding whether or not to use the McMaster coverage as a deductible. Because the McMaster policy covers all pre-existing conditions, you might want to save the McMaster coverage for your more elderly years when insurance will be more difficult and expensive to purchase. For a more thorough discussion of whether or not to use your McMaster coverage as a deductible, see Update on $10,000 out of province emergency medical coverage, from the Fall 2011 issue of MURAnews.
    • A summary of the retiree out of province coverage can be found on the Human Resources Retiree Information page or by phoning HR at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.

    Why You Need Additional Coverage

    • $10,000 may seem like a lot of coverage, but a medical emergency in the U.S. or other countries can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
    • Even trips to other Canadian provinces require additional coverage, as some procedures in other provinces may not be fully covered by OHIP, and the cost of evacuating you back to Ontario can be very expensive.
    • You may be perfectly healthy, but accidents can and do happen, and when they do the medical costs can be substantial.

    Where Can You Get More Information?

    • An excellent discussion of travel health insurance, addressing the need for travel health insurance, who provides this insurance, a list of questions you should ask when purchasing travel health insurance and the restrictions/limitations of this insurance is available from the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association's information pamphlet, A Guide to Travel Health Insurance, or by calling CLHIA at 1-888-295-8112.
    • MURA spent considerable time over the past few years working with Geoff Burman of Broker Advantage to sort out some of the issues around the University’s $10,000 plan. Geoff has since left Broker Advantage, and Broker Advantage was sold to AwayCare. Their Dundas location can be reached at 1-888-563-3122.

    Where Do You Buy Out-of-Province Medical Insurance?

    • MURA cannot recommend any particular providers. This is a personal choice and will depend on your age, your health, whether or not you have any pre-existing medical conditions, whether you want insurance for a single trip or would like coverage that covers several trips over the course of a year.
    • Costs can vary substantially among the various providers and you should shop around to get the best price. Premiums for the same coverage can vary by hundreds of dollars from one provider to the next.
    • Sun Life has partnered with Allianz Global Assistance. It is stated on the HR website that they provide “preferred rates” to McMaster retirees. No details are provided, but further information can be found on the HR Retiree Information web page, or by phone at 905-525-9140, ext 22247.
    • An insurance broker may be a good place to start looking for the travel insurance that you need. Insurance brokers represent a wide range of companies offering emergency travel insurance and as such can provide a broad range of coverage to match individual travel plans, age and pre-existing medical conditions. Insurance brokers don’t sell travel insurance from a single insurance supplier but rather attempt to find the best insurance to match your particular requirements and health. Brokers will also attempt to educate you so that you are aware of some of the pitfalls in purchasing travel insurance. Brokers will also advocate on your behalf should you have to make a claim. AwayCareMedi-Quote and Securiglobe are but three examples of such insurance brokers. Simply Google “travel insurance brokers” to find a comprehensive list.
    • MEDOC Travel Insurance offers group discounts to MURA members through MURA's membership in CURAC, College and University Retiree Associations of Canada. More information can be found at the CURAC web site.
    • There are many other providers of out-of-province/out-of-country medical insurance. Blue Cross, the CAA, CARP, Manulife and RBC are just a few. In addition, many premium credit cards provide travel insurance. Beware, however, of assuming that your credit card will provide you with adequate medical insurance. Many premium credit cards do provide automatic travel insurance, but this coverage is limited in nature (usually up to 15 days and only for travellers under age 65). A few premium cards do provide emergency travel insurance to those over 65, but this is limited to trips of 3 days duration or less. The caveat once again is buyer beware.
    • Shop around for the coverage that provides the best coverage for your individual needs at the best price and always ensure that you explain completely any pre-existing conditions. When completing the medical questionnaire, answer all questions accurately and honestly, and consult your doctor if you are at all unsure as to how to answer a question.

    Updated September 2021

  • January 20, 2017 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    As part of the retiree extended health plan, eligible McMaster retirees (and their eligible dependents) who live in Canada are provided with emergency medical coverage when they travel outside their home province and to other countries. This coverage is provided through Sun Life Financial. Sun Life will pay 100% of the cost of qualified emergency services up to a lifetime maximum of $10,000.

    Please note that claims for this plan are now handled by Sun Life’s emergency travel assistance partner, Allianz Global Assistance.

    Allianz Assistance is available 24 hours a day and toll-free numbers are as follows:

    • In USA or Canada 1-800-511-4610
    • Elsewhere 1-519-514-0351 (call collect if available)
    • Fax 1-519-514-0374

    Claims submission: Allianz Global Assistance, P.O. Box 277, Waterloo, ON Canada N2J 4A4

    Human Resources has provided a summary of the coverage provided by this plan. You may also contact the HR Service Centre at 905-525-9140, extension 22247, for this information.

    See also

    Here is a card that you can complete and carry with you when you travel.

    Updated September 2021

  • October 27, 2016 9:59 PM | Anonymous

    Do you know how much McMaster retiree life insurance coverage you have?

    To make things easy for the executor of your will, you should keep a copy of your McMaster life insurance documents with your important papers, such as your will and other insurance policies.

    The Human Resources office will be pleased to provide you with a copy if you need it. Contact the Human Resources Service Centre by phone at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247. 

    McMaster Post-retirement life insurance coverage varies.

    If you retired before age 65 and collected your pension immediately you were eligible to keep the coverage you had as an active employee until you turned 65. If you made this choice, you would have agreed to pay the full premium for as long as you kept the coverage. At 65, or an earlier age you elected, your coverage would reduce to a paid-up Life Benefit of $5,000. (Note that Survivor Income Benefit and Optional Life coverage cease at retirement.)

    If you retired before age 65 and chose not to keep your pre-retirement coverage, you were immediately eligible to receive a paid-up $5,000 Life Benefit.

    If you retired at age 65 or later, you were eligible for a Life Benefit of $5,000, at no cost to you. You also had a choice of converting your pre-retirement insurance to a private user-pay insurance plan within 31 days of your retirement date.

    As well as knowing what McMaster life insurance you have, you should also make sure that your beneficiary information is up-to-date, particularly if you have had a change in family status. To make a change to your named life insurance beneficiary please visit the Human Resources Retiree Information page to print a copy of the Life Insurance Beneficiary Form. Once complete, please forward the original to Human Resources, CSB 202. For more information, contact HR at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.

  • July 28, 2016 10:03 PM | Anonymous

    Coming down with an outbreak of the shingles virus can be an extraordinarily unpleasant and even dangerous experience. The virus is the same one that causes chickenpox so if earlier in life you had the latter, the virus may lie dormant in your body for decades and then suddenly erupt. Thus many of us have had the shingles vaccine administered even though it is not 100% effective. We have learned from a number of retirees that there is considerable confusion about coverage for the cost of the shingles vaccine by McMaster retiree drug plans. Some retiree plans have this coverage, while others do not.

    We have consulted with HR (thanks, Linda Piccolo) who provides the following advice about coverage.

    “Did you know that you can find out whether a specified drug or vaccine is covered under your retiree drug plan by contacting Sun Life directly or by using your Sun Life app? All you need is your member ID [your former employee ID number] and the Drug Identification Number (‘DIN’). In some circumstances eligible drugs or vaccines may not be available for purchase through the pay direct drug card. If the vaccine is eligible under your retiree plan, Sun Life will reimburse the cost of the vaccine at the plan's coinsurance, however, the physician's administration fee will not be eligible.”

    Please contact Sun Life Financial at 1-800-361-6212 to confirm drug or vaccine eligibility under your specific retiree benefits plan. 

  • July 28, 2016 10:01 PM | Anonymous

    Have you thought about who you have designated as your group life beneficiary lately, and who your pension beneficiary is?

    Maintaining up-to-date designation forms is an important thing to consider, especially if you have had a change in family status.

    You should also consider whether a change in your family status impacts your McMaster retiree health and dental coverage, or your co-pay amounts if you are in a co-pay benefit plan.

    To make a change to your group life beneficiary designation please visit the Human Resources Retiree Information page to print a copy of the Life Insurance Beneficiary Form. Once you have completed the form, please forward the original to Human Resources, CSB 202.

    To inquire about a change of pension beneficiary or report a family status change, and for any questions or assistance, please email or call 905-525-9140, ext. 22247. Please be sure to provide your first and last name and your McMaster ID number in all correspondence.

  • July 28, 2016 10:00 PM | Anonymous

    Do you know what you signed when you retired?

    This may have included your choice of pension and group life insurance options, who you named as your pension and group life insurance beneficiaries, choices about your post-retirement medical and dental benefits, and tax option forms.

    You should have a copy of these documents and keep them with your other important papers, such as your will and insurance policies. If you do not have them, the Human Resources Office will be pleased to provide you with a copy. Contact the Human Resources Service Centre by phone at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247.

  • January 28, 2014 7:08 PM | Anonymous

    Retirees often ask if they can continue to use the drug benefit card they had when they were an active employee. The answer is yes.

    Retirees may have cards of differing colours and with different company names on them, depending on the company name in effect when issued, but they all have the information needed for making drug benefit claims to Sun Life.

    The only information required to submit a Sun Life drug claim through a pharmacy is the policy number and certificate number (your former employee number), which do not change when you retire.

    Retirees who do not have a card can either print their own from the Sun Life website (youʼll need to register for an Access ID if you donʼt already have one), or call Sun Lifeʼs Call Centre at 1-800-361-6212 and ask that a card be mailed to you.

    Why do you need a card? The pharmacy youʼve been dealing with for years will not likely ever ask to see your card, but if you want to change pharmacies or want to be prepared in case you need a prescription filled when you are away from home, your Sun Life drug benefit card will give you the information you need.

  • July 28, 2013 7:19 PM | Anonymous

    Hearing Aid Funding, Winter 2010

    The Ontario government's Assistive Devices (ADP) Program provides funding for hearing aids for all adults that have a long-term hearing loss who have a valid Ontario health card. Coverage is 75% up to $500 per ear. For more information see the Ontario Assistive Devices Program web pages or phone: 1-800-268-6021 (In Toronto: 416-327-8804)

    You may have additional coverage for hearing aids through Sun Life depending on what benefit plan you belong to. Note that the university retiree benefit plans vary greatly with regard to reimbursement for hearing aids. Those in salaried plans 4 (Faculty, Librarians, TMG and CAW) have hearing aid coverage for some additional reimbursement to that provided by the ADP program for two hearing aids. People in plans 1, 2, 3 and hourly plan 4 have some additional coverage beyond ADP reimbursement, but only in cases of hearing aids required as a result of accidents.

    It is wise to check your benefits plan booklet or to contact Human Resources Services to determine your Sun Life coverage. Phone: 905-525-9140. Ext. 26466, e-mail: or check the Human Resources Retiree Information page.  

    Sun Life Hearing Aid Coverage is for Both Ears, Summer 2013

    When claiming reimbursement from Sun Life for hearing aids, retirees should be aware that reimbursement for those with hearing aid coverage is not limited to only one hearing aid. If hearing aids are prescribed for both ears Sun Life should reimburse you for both aids, according to the terms of most retiree benefit plans.

    MURA has heard recently that Sun Life has often reimbursed retirees for only one hearing aid in cases where the retiree purchased (and had a prescription for) two hearing aids. Retirees who inquired about this with Sun Life were often misinformed and told that McMaster’s policy was to provide reimbursement for only one hearing aid.

    The university retiree benefit plans vary greatly with regard to reimbursement for hearing aids. The plans for more recent salaried retirees provide reimbursement up to a maximum amount every 3 benefit years, while older salaried plans and most hourly plans restrict coverage to hearing aids required as a result of accidents.

    Whatever your coverage, it applies to both ears. For example, your plan may state "We will cover 75% of the costs of hearing aids prescribed by an ear, nose and throat specialist, up to a maximum of $500 per person over a period of 3 benefit years. Repairs are included in this maximum. In those cases where hearing aids for both ears are prescribed, the claimant may receive reimbursement for the second hearing aid under the same conditions." Reimbursement in this case is for up to $500 per hearing aid, depending on the cost of the aids; e.g. a maximum of $1000 with a prescription for two hearings aids.

    MURA has been informed that Sun Life has recently reviewed hearing aid claims back to 2010 and reprocessed as needed. They will also be doing monthly audits going forward. If you have had a prescription for two hearing aids and received only reimbursement for one aid from your retiree benefit plan, Sun Life should have contacted you in early June and provided you with an additional amount. If you think you qualify and have not received this additional reimbursement from Sun Life, please contact your HR advisor at 905-525-9140, extension 22247 (222HR)

    For information about your benefits and Sun Life coverage check your benefits plan booklet (booklets for most plans are available) at Human Resources Retiree Information, contact Human Resources Services at 905-525-9140, Ext. 22247, or call Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212. 

  • January 28, 2013 7:50 PM | Anonymous

    Many McMaster retirees are eligible for healthcare (e.g., prescription drugs, dental, hearing aids, eye glasses, physiotherapy) and group life insurance benefits after retirement. When you retired from the University, Human Resources (HR) may have provided you with a booklet listing these benefits. If you do not have a copy of the booklet, you may find it in Human Resources Retiree Information or you can call HR at 905-525-9140 x 22247.

    In order to be fully informed about your post-retirement benefits you should have a copy of your booklet. The front cover states to whom the plan applies (e.g., “Retired Teaching Non-Clinical Faculty and Librarians plan 5”) and gives the Contract Number for McMaster retirees: 25018/50813. The first paragraph on the second or third page gives further information (e.g., “These plans apply to individuals who retired after July 1, 1998 or those who retired earlier and opt to participate in this plan.”). Taken together, this information identifies you as a member of a specific plan.

    Seventeen different benefit booklets are listed on the HR web site. The booklet that applies to you depends on the employee group or bargaining unit to which you belonged while working and your year of retirement. None of this is simple; you may need help from HR to determine where you fit into the table below. Your benefit booklet may not appear on the Human Resources website or in the table. If in doubt, contact HR. 

  • July 28, 2012 3:19 PM | Anonymous

    by Lorraine Allan Chair, MURA Pension and Benefits Committee

    Until recently, with a few exceptions (such as dental implants and out-of-province/country emergency medical coverage), McMaster salaried employees retired with the health benefits that were in place for their employee group on the date of retirement. Moreover, the cost of providing these post-retirement health benefits was borne entirely by the University as per previous negotiations. In recent years, the picture has become more complicated. The provision of post-retirement benefits and the payment for these benefits now vary across employee groups. Post-retirement health benefits are no longer available to recent TMG hires. Recently hired salaried staff (CAW), hourly-rated staff (SEIU and IUOE), and librarians (MUALA), if they meet certain requirements, can opt for post-retirement benefits through a copayment plan. Future faculty (MUFA) retirees who qualify for post-retirement benefits can opt for these benefits through a copayment plan.

    Information about your retiree health benefits can be downloaded from the Human Resources post-retirement benefits information page, or by calling the HR service centre (22247). If you call Sun Life directly (or Allianz Global Assistance for out-of province/country emergency medical coverage) to enquire about your benefits, it is essential to provide information about your employee group and your retirement year.

    The MURA Pension and Benefits Committee can help you to understand your post-retirement health benefits and can provide assistance in connecting you to the appropriate HR contact in the event that your claim is denied by Sun Life or by Allianz Global Assistance. While sometimes a retiree claim is not covered by their benefit package, we are aware of instances where valid claims have been rejected.

    You can contact the Chair of the MURA Pension and Benefit Committee by email or by leaving a message on MURA's voicemail: 905-525-9140 ext. 23171. 

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