Tuesday, February 26, 2008

OHIP Eligibility - Residency Requirement

From Torontoist, we hear of an account of an individual denied health benefits under OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) due to residency concerns:

Encounters with government bureaucracy can be stressful ordeals at the best of times; at the worst, when things don’t go your way, they can be incredibly frustrating. Apparently, this is true even if you’re a Polaris Music Prize–winning musician. Former Torontoist contributor Carly Beath pointed us toward Owen Pallett recounting his recent travails with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care on Stillepost. His story is a cautionary tale for bands, musicians, and anyone else who travels frequently.

When renewing his health card, Pallett answered the clerk’s questions openly and honestly only to get burned by it. Although Ontario is his place of residence, his musician’s lifestyle of constant touring and travel to recording studios elsewhere meant Pallett couldn’t satisfy the clerk that he met OHIP’s eligibility requirements, which demand that an applicant to have been "physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period." That he couldn't meet the residency requirements seems especially ironic given the degree to which Pallett’s hometown permeates Final Fantasy’s music, with references to the CN Tower, Brad Lamb, and much more.

Embedded link mine.

I'm inclined to believe that, if true, this is just an example of a member of the civil service going to extreme lengths to ensure an applicant complies with the letter of the law. That, under the definitions of eligibility, this individual is a "transient".

However, what I find interesting are the requirements to vote in an Ontario election found on the Elections Ontario website.

To be eligible to vote in an Ontario election, the prospective voter must be:

  • 18 years of age or older,
  • a Canadian citizen, and
  • a resident of an electoral district in Ontario.

There are no residency-length requirements to vote as far as I could find.

Further, if you need to prove you are eligible to vote, you can show identification. The combination of documentation allowed is almost infinite, and in this case, I'm sure the OHIP applicant in this story would qualify. The individual mentions having cell phone bills and would likely have a credit card or debit card.

In short, this individual would be legally entitled to vote in Ontario, but technically does not qualify for OHIP. Further, this individual could conceivably vote for a party that promised to make this go away. Funny, that. They could vote to eliminate or improve OHIP, but would be denied coverage.

Even worse - if this applicant had children who travelled with him, they'd be denied coverage as well.

I understand why a government would like to limit public health insurance to an individual based upon their likelihood of not actually residing in the province, but to deny coverage due to a residency-length requirement seems wrong.

There are better conditions for disqualifying someone.

Update: There's an update.

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