Looney Letters              

Letters from our members.  If you would like to contribute,  please send your input to looniesandtoonies@gmail.com. 

        Traffic Issues - Northbound 2016
        Federal Government Snowbird Tax?

        Travel Insurance Information Apr 2015
        Letters of Thanks

UPDATE: On 15 April 2016 we left the Villages at 5:00 am this morning and arrived in Corbin, KY at 3:30 pm this afternoon. We
drove about 1080 km in 10.5 hours, experiencing minimal delays in a few spots where construction was occurring. We
passed through downtown Atlanta about 11:15 am, driving at the speed limit most of the time. There was no delay south
of Jellico for any rock slide.

Earlier Reports

Hi everyone, just a FYI concerning the drive home on the I-75, we heard from friends who emailed us yesterday after arriving back in Ontario and they had this to say, we had also heard from some people we golfed with yesterday that the construction delay north of Atlanta was significant.  This information has got us considering the alternate route up through the Carolinas, Virginia and Pennsylvania, actually an hour shorter but we found it more tedious and the hotels weren't as good.  Here's what our friends had to say...

"We did come home via 75 & the rock slide area had reopened the previous day to 1 lane. It was very  slow and  we were probably delayed about  1.25 hours to go 8 miles. 
On Friday we also had a very slow drive with construction delays and heavy traffic going through Atlanta."

Hi Fellow Canadian Snowbirds

I sent an email to the CSA asking if it was true that Canadians staying abroad more than 3 months ( e.g. snowbirds in the USA) would have a tax imposed on them by the new federal government.

This was the response I got from the Canadian Snowbirds! I felt the part about OAS being impacted was a bit fuzzy! If the Americans agree to allow us to stay in the USA for up to 8 months (7 for Ontario because of OHIP) is this going to impact us in other areas -vis -a-vis programs ?

Mike Vrebosch
                                               ------------------------ Response ---------------------
Hi Mike,

There is no truth to this rumour.

Recently, a number of news articles have been published regarding a 2014 federal government memo and the Entry/Exit Initiative (entry and exit information sharing program between Canada and the United States). The memo states that the Government of Canada will use the information from the Entry/Exit Initiative in order to determine if individuals are meeting residency requirements for certain social benefits. Unfortunately, these reports have mistakenly linked the content of this memo with Canadian snowbirds. The issue is, the kind of benefits which are discussed in the memo, such as employment insurance and child benefits do not impact retired Canadian snowbirds. The only benefit which is mentioned which could have an effect on our members is Old Age Security, however, there are no residency limits relating to the continued payment of OAS (and CPP) as long as the individual has lived in Canada for 20 years past the age of 18. In my opinion, this would really only impact expats living abroad but still collecting various Canadian benefits. The CSA has discussed this issue with several media sources (TV, print and radio) in order to clarify this issue. We will also be addressing this matter in the upcoming issue of CSANews.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Best regards,

Evan Rachkovsky
Director of Research and Communications
Canadian Snowbird Association
180 Lesmill Road
Toronto, Ontario Canada M3B 2T5

Tel. 416-441-7062
(Toll-free: 1-800-265-3200)
Fax: 416-441-7007
evan.rachkovsky@snowbirds.org   -   www.snowbirds.org

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Received Apr/6/2015
RE: Medipac Travel Insurance and The Villages Regional Hospital

First, let me start off by saying that Medipac Travel Insurance is the largest provider of Snowbird Medical Insurance in Canada. They have been in this, their only business, since 1983 and were selected by the Canadian Snowbird Association as their exclusive insurance provider in 1992. This followed a very rigorous tender process where the original Snowbird Executive Committee reviewed presentations from 43 different insurers and travel insurance providers. Medipac was the unanimous selection of the Committee due to their unique plan design, long term experience and medical capabilities, as well as their very competitive premium rates.

The uncertainty going on in the Villages is based on information that is incorrect. Your Medipac Travel Insurance is good anywhere in the world, including the Villages hospital and the area physicians. There are no delays in treatment or any other issues with which to concern yourself. Over the past number of years we have successfully settled over $3 million dollars in medical bills in the Villages, without complaint I might add. Treatments received by our Medipac members, in The Villages Hospital, include cardiac arrest (which is a heart attack), superventricular tachycardia (a racing heart), syncope (passing out), fractures, an ear infection and even a cat bite. All these claims, and more, were settled effectively and without complaint from either the hospital or our members.

The recent statements made by hospital executives were incorrect or incomplete. Medipac does have a contract with The Villages Hospital but it is through the Central Florida Health Alliance. This Alliance is the umbrella organization of which The Villages Hospital forms a part. It is probable that the two hospital executives that spoke to the Loonies and Toonies Club were unaware of this. They have now been advised of our contract by Phillip Hagel, the administrative Director of the Central Florida Health Alliance. The admitting staff and the registration staff at the Villages Hospital are aware of our contracts and have, and will, process all admissions as such.

It is my guess that this all started with a discounting group that distributed a list of "their" insurance plans which the hospital accepted. They hoped to get more business by, basically, scaring snowbirds. The large, and very reputable, providers that were not on this list include Great West Life, Sun Life, Manulife, Royal Bank and other bank plans, Blue Cross, Medipac International and several others. Since these plans are responsible for most of the snowbird travel insurance market, no hospital group would ever want to deny our clients access, which would be illegal in any event. None of these companies were on the Villages Hospital list as these companies undoubtedly deal directly with the Alliance, as well. The second issue raised is that The Villages Hospital, and others sometimes request an “upfront” payment. This is because many people, including some insurers, do not pay them. An amount of $2­3,000 is usually requested to cover the cost of a short emergency room visit. As an example, the average hospital in Florida collects less than 40% of the bills they send out, so you can’t really blame them. Medipac does not like this practice but we do understand the reasoning. When this occasionally happens, Medipac simply transfers the money directly to the hospital involved or gives them OUR credit card.

Let me reassure you that, we believe, that Medipac is the best plan in Canada for benefits as well as for our excellent premiums. We are the only provider with significant medical staff, as well, which can be critical in a medical emergency. We have no age limits, and we cover most pre-existing conditions. We have over 50,000 snowbird clients which dwarfs our next competitor, many of whom sell one and two week trips to Disneyland, etc. Our clients speak for themselves at our many meetings and we are endorsed by both the Canadian Snowbird Association and the Royal Canadian Legion ­ for a reason. The people of the Villages should purchase the Medipac plan instead of relying on the several, other plans that are heavily marketed there. Hope this helps. These are the real facts.

Ross Quigley, CEO,
The Medipac International Group. Dated April 7, 2015

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Received April 8, 2015

Mr. Dave Horsman
President, Loonies and Toonies Club,
The Villages, FL

Dear Dave:

Thanks for meeting with me recently concerning the desire for Villages residents from Canada to be able to use their travel insurance to access the services of The Villages Regional Hospital. The specific insurances you asked me to check on are the following:

The Co-operators,     Sun Life,     RBC
Great West,              Medipac.

I am pleased to let you know that we have now verified that CFHA and its affiliated hospitals (The Villages Regional Hospital and Leesburg Regional Medical Center) are glad to accept all of these insurances, and we will be sure to bill these companies directly any time a Canadian resident visits one of our hospitals.

Because we now have a policy of verifying insurance electronically at the time of admission, Canadian residents should bring a copy of their insurance card with them, and our Business Office will handle it from there. Of course, in an emergency we always treat patients and their families first, and we worry about payment later. As you know, each type of travel insurance offers a different level of benefits. In a non-emergency (elective) situation, we will request up-front payment arrangements for any services which are not covered, such as any applicable insurance co-payments or deductibles.

As the CEO, I would like to welcome all Canadians to consider using our hospital facilities. If I can ever be of service, please don’t hesitate contact me at donhenderson@cfhallliance.org .

Thanks and best regards,
Don Henderson
President and CEO

Leesburg Regional Medical Center              The Villages Regional Hospital                      Leesburg Rehabilitation Hospital
600 E. Dixie Avenue, Leesburg,                 1451 El Camino Real,  The Villages,               700 N. Palmetto St., Leesburg,
 FL 34748         (352) 323-5762                     FL 32159 (352) 751-8000                                FL 34748          (352) 323-5620
CFHAlliance.org                                          CFHAlliance.org                                            CFHAlliance.org
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Letters of Thanks

Received Mar 10,2015
Hi Dave & Heather

Thanks for a an afternoon of GREAT WEATHER and enjoyable golf at the 2015 Canadian Loonies and Toonies Golf Tournament.  Heather, thanks for accommodating my Canadian friends with assorted injuries.

Regards, Jim

Received Mar 7, 2015

Jeannette and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves last night at the hockey game. Well, what we really enjoyed was the entire event, from 3:15pm on, once we arrived at the bus. You and your team did a terrific job organizing the event to ensure that every one of us had a good time! Jeannette and I really enjoyed the trivia challenge. And we know that this took a lot of time and effort by Moe Poirier to put together. We both thank you and your team for your caring for your fellow Canadians!

Looking forward to our next visit with you
Jim and Jeannette

Received Mar 7, 2015

Thanks for all the work organizing the trip to the Tampa Bay/ Toronto Hockey game.
It was a lot of fun even though the Leafs lost.

Mary and Mike

Jan, 2014                                                   
Dear Dave,

Many thanks to your organization for responding with their food donations. It was great, and everything we received will be well placed to the needy in North Sumter County. Thanks for your efforts in organizing this drive in conjunction with your Christmas party.

Don Huggins, Manager
Wildwood Food Pantry
(352) 874-3043

April 14 - 2013
To the membership…Loonies And Toonies Club..The Villages, Florida

At our last meeting on April 10th, 2013, Dave Horsman, our club President, gave a special “Thank You’ to Pat Irving..Vice President, and the many volunteers who helped make this past season an incredible success. And, that it was !!
Now, there is one person who needs the hugest Thank You. That is Dave Horsman. Just only a few years ago, the club was formed under Dave’s leadership and has roared to an amazing membership number surpassing the 600 + mark ….and still growing. One of the largest clubs in The Villages !!
Dave’s vision, commitment and relentless hard work is sincerely appreciated by all of us. Many long hours organizing meetings, bus trips, golf games, baseball trips etc. is not an easy task.
The meetings have been informative, an opportunity to meet fellow Canadians and to make new friends while enjoying the ever fun loving musician “Just Mike”. And, line dancing is as enjoyable to watch , as it is to participate.
So, to you Dave, from all of us…THANK YOU. We look forward to the next season of sunshine and camaraderie.
From your membership……April, 2013.
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