Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Medical Transportation Policy Framework for First Nations and Inuit (Interim)
Effective date: July 2019
- 1. General principles
- 2. Coordinated travel
- 3. Modes of transportation
- 4. Emergency transportation
- 5. Client escorts
- 6. Appointments
- 7. Addictions treatment travel
- 8. Traditional healer services travel policy
- 9. Meals and accommodations
- 10. Reimbursement of travel expenses
- 11. Exceptions
- 12. Exclusions
- Appendix A: definitions
- Appendix B: client eligibility
- Appendix C: meals, accommodations, parking and kilometre allowances
- Appendix D: privacy
- Appendix E: appeal process
- Appendix F: Non-Insured Health Benefits Audit program
Indigenous Services Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) and the Assembly of First Nations have undertaken a joint review of the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program, including the medical transportation benefit. The objectives of this collaborative process are to enhance client access to benefits, identify and address gaps in benefits and improve service delivery to be more responsive to client needs. This updated NIHB Medical Transportation Policy Framework is an interim measure to clarify existing policy in some areas and respond to preliminary issues identified through joint review discussions to date. Once the joint review of the medical transportation benefit is completed, further revisions to this policy framework are anticipated.
The NIHB program provides registered First Nations and recognized Inuit with coverage for a range of medically necessary health benefits when private, provincial or territorial health insurance plans or social programs do not otherwise cover these benefits. NIHB program benefits include prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, dental and vision care, medical supplies and equipment, mental health counselling and transportation to access medically required health services that are not available on reserve or in the community of residence.
The NIHB Medical Transportation Policy Framework defines the policies and benefits under which the NIHB program will fund eligible registered First Nations and recognized Inuit clients with access to medically required health services not provided on the reserve or in the community of residence. Medical transportation benefits are funded in accordance with the mandate of the NIHB program, including providing sustainable, non-insured health benefits appropriate to the needs of the clients. The NIHB Medical Transportation Policy Framework sets out a clear definition as to the eligibility of clients, the types of benefits provided and the criteria under which they will be funded.
The NIHB Medical Transportation Policy Framework applies to the delivery and administration of all medical transportation benefits under the federal NIHB Program. These policies apply to NIHB funded services, whether administered by FNIHB or by First Nations or Inuit Health Authorities or organizations, which includes territorial governments, under a contribution agreement. In some cases, First Nations and Inuit may receive health benefits coverage through a self-government agreement (for example, the Government of Nunatsiavut or the Nisga'a Lisims Government) or through a separate agreement (for example, the BC First Nations Health Authority). These entities may manage and deliver benefits according to different policies than those outlined in this framework. As such, clients served under such agreements should contact the organization responsible for their health benefits program or plan directly for information on the applicable policies.
1. General principles
Medical transportation benefits are funded in accordance with the policies set out in this framework to assist clients to access medically required health services that cannot be obtained on the reserve or in the community of residence and when access would otherwise be denied. Exceptions may be granted, with justification and FNIHB approval, to meet exceptional needs.
Access to medically required health services may include financial assistance to the client or arranging for the provision of services from the reserve or community of residence when the following conditions are met:
- the client has exhausted all other available sources of benefits for which they are eligible under provincial or territorial health or social programs, other publicly funded programs (for example, motor vehicle insurance, Workers Compensation) or private insurance plans
- travel is to the nearest appropriate health professional or health facility (when health professionals are brought into the community to provide the service, the community facility is considered the nearest appropriate facility)
- the most economical and efficient means of transportation is used, taking into consideration the urgency of the situation and medical condition of the client
- a FNIHB or First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization representative or on-site medical professional has determined that medically required health services are not available on the reserve or community of residence
- transportation to health services is coordinated to ensure maximum cost-effectiveness
- transportation benefits are provided when prior approved by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization or post approved upon medical justification if consistent with the framework
- in emergency situations, when prior approval has not been obtained, expenses may be reimbursed by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization when appropriate medical justification is provided to support the medical emergency and approved after the fact
- when public transit is not available
Medical transportation benefits may be provided for clients to access the following types of medically necessary health services:
- medical services defined as insured services by provincial or territorial health plans (for example, appointments with physician, hospital care)
- diagnostic tests and medical treatments ordered by a physician or other health professional within their scope of practice and which are covered by provincial or territorial health plans
- publically funded alcohol, solvent, drug abuse and detox treatment
- traditional healers
- Non-Insured Health Benefits (vision, dental, mental health, medical supplies and equipment)
- publically funded preventative screening such as breast cancer screening where coordination with other medical travel is not feasible
Medical transportation benefits include ground, water and air travel, meals and accommodations. For more information, refer to sections 3 (Modes of transportation), 4 (Emergency transportation) and 9 (Meals and accommodations).
Medical transportation benefits may be provided for an approved escort. Refer to section 5 (Client escorts).
In cases where a client is required to travel repeatedly on a long-term basis to access medical care and treatment, medical transportation benefits will be provided for up to 4 months. Extensions may be considered on an exception basis.
Medical transportation benefits may be provided when the client is referred by the provincial or territorial health care authority for medically required health services to a facility outside of Canada when such services are covered by a provincial or territorial health plan and the medical transportation benefits are not covered by provincial or territorial health or social programs, other publicly funded programs or private insurance.
When a request for medical transportation is denied, an appeal process is available. Appeals must be initiated by the client or by a designate acting on their behalf. For more information, refer to Appendix E (Appeal process) or contact the NIHB regional office.
2. Coordinated travel
Medical transportation is granted to the client according to the following criteria:
When more than one client is travelling to the same location, where practical and economical, appointments and travel arrangements will be coordinated to ensure optimum cost-effectiveness.
When more than one medically required service is required in a week or more than one family member needs to access a medically required service in the same week, where practical and economical, appointments and travel arrangements will be scheduled for the same day to ensure optimum cost-effectiveness.
When more than one client is travelling in the same vehicle, the rate reimbursed will be for one trip only. Where applicable, an appropriate schedule of fixed rates will be established.
3. Modes of transportation
The most efficient and economical mode of transportation consistent with the urgency of the situation and the medical condition of the client is to be utilized at all times as approved by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization. Clients who choose to use another mode of transportation will be responsible for the difference in the cost between the 2.
When scheduled and coordinated medical transportation benefits are provided by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization, clients who choose to use another mode of transportation will be responsible for the full cost. For more information please refer to section 2 (Coordinated travel).
The following modes of transportation (including special needs vehicles) may be used for medical transportation benefits:
- ground travel:
- private vehicle
- commercial taxi
- fee for service driver and vehicle
- band vehicle
- snowmobile taxi
- water travel:
- motorized boat
- boat taxi
- air travel:
- scheduled flights
- chartered flights
- air ambulance
- When it has been determined by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization that a private vehicle is the most appropriate, efficient and economical means of transportation, coverage for the following may be authorized to access medically required health services:
- the payment of a per kilometre allowance
- the cost of parking in a public parking lot
- Coverage for the use of a private vehicle will not be approved when scheduled and coordinated medical transportation is available from FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization
- Reimbursement for the use of a private vehicle will be issued to the client
- With the authorization of the client, band or community nursing personnel, reimbursement can be issued to the driver or the band if applicable
- For more information, refer to Appendix C: meals, accommodations, parking and kilometre allowances
- When public transportation is available and the client chooses to use their own private vehicle, reimbursement will be made at either the equivalent public transportation rate or at the established private vehicle per kilometre allowance rate, whichever is the lesser
Fee for service driver and vehicle, commercial taxi
- The use of fee for service drivers and vehicles or commercial taxis may be authorized when they have been determined by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization to be the most appropriate, efficient and economical mode of transportation. Where applicable, an appropriate schedule of fixed rates will be established
- The use of fee for service drivers and vehicles or commercial taxis will not be approved when scheduled or coordinated medical transportation is available from FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization
- Fee for service drivers and vehicles who are not regulated by a regulatory body, FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization must ensure that a copy of the appropriate driver licenses, vehicle registration and certificate of insurance as a public carrier are kept on file with FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization
Whether band vehicle and drivers or fee for service drivers are used to provide medical transportation benefits, FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization shall ensure:
- all medical drivers carry and maintain a valid provincial or territorial driving permit and appropriate liability insurance in relation to the carriage of passengers by vehicle or other motorized conveyances
- all medical drivers undergo a screening process, including background checks and references, whereby the general trustworthiness of the driver is assessed, bearing in mind that the driver will not only be operating a motor vehicle, but also entrusted with the transport of medical patients and will frequently be alone with such persons for extended periods
- all vehicles carry and maintain a valid license, registration and appropriate liability insurance in relation to the carriage of passengers by vehicle or other motorized conveyances
- all vehicles used for medical transportation are in good working order, including seat belts and child safety seats and that all laws applicable to transportation are adhered to by all drivers
Public transportation (air, bus, train, ferry)
The use of public transportation may be authorized when it has been determined to be the most appropriate, efficient and economical means of transportation consistent with the urgency of the situation and the medical condition of the client and it is provided to access the nearest appropriate facility.
In the case of air travel, when a group of clients is travelling to the same location, where applicable and when more economical, charter flights will be arranged rather than individual scheduled flights. Clients may not opt to use the regularly scheduled flight unless they assume the full cost of the air travel.
4. Emergency transportation
Assistance with the cost of ambulance services will be provided when such services are required for emergency situations.
Salaries for doctors or nurses accompanying clients on the ambulance are not covered.
Licensed ambulance operators will be reimbursed according to the terms, conditions and rules of the regionally negotiated payment schedules.
Medical transportation benefits for emergency ground ambulance include only the portion of the services not covered by provincial or territorial health or social programs, other publicly funded programs or private health insurance plans (equivalent amount billed to other provincial or territorial residents).
Air ambulance or medevac
Medical transportation benefits for emergency air ambulance or medevac services include only the portion of the services not covered by provincial or territorial health or social programs, other publicly funded programs or private health insurance plans (equivalent amount billed to other provincial or territorial residents).
Medical transportation benefits include air ambulance or medevac transportation for a client in emergency situations when:
- a medical assessment has been conducted by an on-site nurse or physician and the need for emergency transportation to a hospital for either immediate or emergency treatment has been established and transportation by a commercial scheduled flight could compromise the client's condition
- the emergency occurs in a remote location and neither an on-site nurse nor physician is available to conduct a medical assessment and the air ambulance or medevac has been authorized by a representative of FNIHB or of a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization
5. Client escorts
Medical transportation benefits may include coverage for transportation, accommodations and meals for medical or non-medical escorts for clients travelling to access medically required health services.
Escorts must be preauthorized by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization and meet the criteria for coverage of an escort, as outlined below.
Medical transportation benefits do not include the payment of a fee, honorarium or salary to medical or non-medical escorts.
Medical escorts, either a physician or registered nurse, may be approved in cases which involve a client with a health condition where monitoring or stabilization are required during travel and such services are not covered by the provincial or territorial health or social program, other publicly funded program or private insurance.
Coverage for a non-medical escort may be approved when there is a legal or medical requirement that results in the client being unable to travel alone, such as where the client:
- is a minor
- requires alternative legal consent or decision making
- requires assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating and bathing
- faces a language barrier (for example, health services at the referred location are not available in the clients spoken languages)
- is to receive instruction on specific and essential home medical or nursing procedures that cannot be given to the client only
- is undergoing a medical procedure (such as outpatient general anesthetic) or has a medical condition that will result in the client requiring assistance during the trip
- is a pregnant woman whose trip is for the purpose of childbirth, including being closer to care while awaiting childbirth
Requests for coverage for non-medical escorts must be made or supported by a community health professional except where:
- the client is a minor based on the date of birth, all minors will be provided with coverage for a non-medical escort
- the client is a pregnant woman whose trip is for the purpose of childbirth; all such clients will be provided with coverage for a non-medical escort
- the client will receive outpatient sedation as part of a medical procedure and will be unable to travel home unaccompanied following the procedure
- there is existing documentation in the client's file that supports the continuing need for a non-medical escort such as:
- language barrier
- escort travel previously approved as part of a series of related treatments
- client has a permanent condition and as a result will always require assistance while travelling
Details of the medical condition are not required. However, additional justification may be required in exceptional circumstances (for example, clients requiring more than one escort).
When coverage for an escort has been authorized, the escort must be capable and willing to provide the assistance that the client needs, for the duration it is required. Depending on the client's needs, for example, the escort is:
- able to sign consent forms or provide a patient history
- able to provide the required physical and other required care when the client needs it
- an escort should not require assistance for their own needs during the trip, as this is important where the client may be admitted to hospital, leaving the escort on their own
- proficient in translating between an Indigenous language and English and French
- able to drive if the role includes providing ground transportation
- able to share personal space to support client
Escorts should continue to be covered as long as the medical or legal requirement continues to exist. In some cases, it may be more practical financially to have the escort stay longer.
When accessing medical transportation benefits, confirmation that the client has accessed a medically required health service must be obtained from the health care professional or their representative and submitted to FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization.
When a client does not attend a scheduled appointment and medical transportation benefits have been provided, the client may have to assume the cost of the return trip or of the next trip to access medically necessary health services unless justification is provided to explain why the client was unable to attend or to notify the appropriate public carrier of the cancellation. Justification may include, but is not limited to, unforeseen circumstances such as health service delivery delays, severe weather conditions and family or personal emergencies.
7. Addictions treatment travel
Opioid use disorder treatment travel
Coverage for medical transportation benefits for clients to access supervised treatment for opioid use disorder (for example, methadone, Suboxone) will be reviewed every 6 months.
Addictions treatment centres
Coverage will be provided to support travel to the closest appropriate National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program funded, referred or other publicly funded facility in the home province only. Exceptions are made to travel outside the province only when the required treatment is not available in the home province or when a neighbouring province's treatment centre is the closest centre and approved by the NIHB regional office.
Clients are required to meet all treatment centre entry requirements prior to medical transportation benefits being authorized.
Only the most efficient and economical method of transportation will be authorized, taking into account the medical condition of the client.
An escort is only provided for a client as defined in section 5: Client escorts).
Trips home during the course of treatment will not be authorized unless part of the treatment plan as established by the facility and approved prior to starting treatment.
Family trips to the treatment facility will not be authorized unless they are a documented part of the treatment program as established by the facility and approved prior to starting treatment.
Coverage for transportation to medical appointments for clients while in the care of the treatment centre requires prior approval.
Travel to access additional treatment within a 1 year period may be approved when the treatment facility accepts the client for readmission.
Exceptions may be authorized, with appropriate justification, when approved by the NIHB regional office.
8. Traditional healer services travel policy
Medical transportation benefits, within the client's region or territory of residence, may be provided for clients to travel to see a traditional healer or, where economical, for a traditional healer to travel to the community.
Medical transportation benefits to access traditional healer services must be preauthorized by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization. On an exception basis, authorization may be granted after the fact by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization when appropriate medical justification is provided and approved.
When the traditional healers selected by the client are outside of the client's region or territory of residence, travel costs will be reimbursed for travel to the regional or territorial border only.
The following criteria must be considered prior to approving medical transportation benefits for traditional healer services:
- the traditional healer is recognized as such by the local band, tribal council or health professional
- a licensed physician can confirm that the client has a medical condition
- if a licensed physician is not routinely available in the community, then a community health professional or FNIHB representative can confirm that the client has a medical condition
9. Meals and accommodations
Medical transportation benefits may include assistance with meals and accommodations when these expenses are incurred while in transit for approved transportation to access medically required health services. For more information, refer to Appendix B: client eligibility.
Where the trip includes an overnight or extended stay away from the client's residence, clients are to choose the most efficient and economical type of accommodations, taking into consideration the client's health condition, location of accommodations and travel requirements to access medically required health services.
FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization will arrange accommodations. Clients who choose to make different accommodations arrangements will be responsible for the difference in the cost between the 2.
When available, meals and accommodations must be obtained from the boarding homes or commercial establishments with which FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization has a negotiated standing offer or other contractual agreement.
Where special arrangements have not been made, such as boarding homes, meals taken in commercial establishments will be reimbursed as per established regional rates in accordance with this framework.
Assistance with meals may be provided where the time away from home to attend the medically required appointment is more than 6 hours in one day. The assistance will be provided as per the regional rates for either a lunch or a dinner, depending on the time of day the travel is occurring. Breakfast is not payable for same day trips. Assistance with a meal when the time away is less than 6 hours may be provided in circumstances where meals are a required component of the medical treatment and a meal is not provided by the facility.
Assistance with overnight accommodations may be provided on a case-by-case basis, which may include the review of the medical justification, time of appointment, distance traveled and scheduled or coordinated medical transportation.
When accommodations are provided in a private home, assistance not to exceed the regional rate set out for private accommodations may be reimbursed. Reimbursements will only be issued to the client. For more information, refer to Appendix C: meal, accommodations and kilometre allowances.
Other expenses are the responsibility of the client (for example, telephone charges, room damage, movie rentals, game rentals, room service, tips and gratuities) and will not be reimbursed.
In cases where a client is required to reside close to medical treatment outside their reserve or community of residence for an extended period, the cost of meals, accommodations and in-city transportation to access the medical care or treatment, when they are not covered by provincial or territorial health or social programs, other publicly funded programs or private insurance plans, may be covered for up to a 3 month transition period, to enable the client to make arrangements to reside where the services are located. Extensions may be considered on an exception basis. A weekly food allowance as per the regional rate may be provided.
10. Reimbursement of travel expenses
Reimbursement to clients, approved escorts and service providers will be in accordance with the transportation policies and benefits of the NIHB program and based on:
- negotiated rates
- rates set out in the terms and conditions of the relevant contribution agreement
- published FNIHB rates
- the actual expense of a commercial carrier or service with the submission of original itemized receipts
Only service providers who have a negotiated contractual arrangement or who have been approved by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization will be reimbursed for medical transportation benefits they have provided.
All invoices submitted for payment for the reimbursement of expenses for medical transportation benefits must be submitted within 1 year of the service being provided. Requests for reimbursements submitted more than 1 year after the service is rendered will be rejected.
Medical transportation benefits include coverage for some or all of the travel expenses incurred by clients to access medically required health services at the nearest appropriate facility. If clients wish to access equivalent services elsewhere, they will be responsible for the difference in the cost of such travel. In cases where either scheduled or coordinated medical transportation benefits are provided by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization, the clients will be responsible for the full cost.
Reimbursement to the client for meal allowances and private accommodations will be as per the regional rates. For more information, refer to section 9: meals and accommodations and Appendix C: meal, accommodations and kilometre allowances.
When private vehicles are used, reimbursement to the client will be as per the regional rate. For more information, refer to Appendix C: meal, accommodations and kilometre allowances.
Certain types of travel may be considered on an exceptional basis with the appropriate justification and should be coordinated with other travel wherever possible. These types of travel include, but are not limited to the following:
- diagnostic tests for educational purposes, such as hearing tests for children required by the school
- medical supplies and equipment and vision care benefits where a fitting is required and these fittings cannot be made on the reserve or in the community of residence
- other requests for travel will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with appropriate justification
Certain types of travel, benefits and services will not be provided as benefits under the NIHB Program under any circumstances and are not subject to the NIHB appeal process. These include assistance with:
- compassionate travel
- appointments for clients in the care of federal, provincial or territorial institutions such as incarcerated clients
- court-ordered treatment and assessment or as a condition of parole, coordinated by the justice system
- appointments while travelling outside of Canada, other than as outlined in section 1 (General principles)
- travel for clients residing in an off-reserve location where the appropriate health services are available locally
- travel for the purposes of a third-party requested medical examination; for example, medical certificate for employment
- the return trip home in cases of an illness while away from home other than for approved travel to access medically required health services
- travel only to pick up new or repeat prescriptions or vision care or medical supply and equipment products where a fitting is not required
- travel to access health related services that are not identified in section 1.3, unless coordinated
- payment of professional fee or fees for preparation of doctor's note or other document preparation to support provision of benefits
- transportation to adult day care or respite care
Appendix A: definitions
Appeal process: a three-level process which allows clients to appeal a decision when they have been denied a medical transportation benefit.
Band driver and vehicle: means a driver who is hired by a band and who drives vehicles owned or leased and operated by a band to drive clients to medically required health services.
Boarding home: means an establishment providing board, accommodations and associated support services while in transit.
Client: means a person who is NIHB eligible, as defined in Appendix B.
Commercial establishment: means for-profit commercial accommodations, such as hotels and motels, which provide overnight lodging or meals.
Community health professional: means a health professional who is a member in good standing of a professional association.
Community of residence: means the geographic or urban area in which the client resides.
Exception: means goods, services and travel which are not defined benefits but which may be approved with appropriate justification.
Exclusion: means goods, services and requested travel which will not be provided as benefits under the NIHB program under any circumstances and are not subject to the NIHB appeal process.
Fee-for-service driver and vehicle: means a driver who is recommended by chief and council, who is approved and recognized by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization and who uses their own vehicle to drive clients to medically required health services not available on the reserve or in the community of residence.
First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization: means a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization, (including territorial government, who is accountable for the provision of medical transportation benefits to eligible clients and who receives funds from Indigenous Services Canada in accordance with the terms and conditions of a signed contribution agreement to deliver the NIHB program.
FNIHB: means the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada.
Insured service: means health care services and treatment as defined by the Canada Health Act and provincial or territorial health care program for the province or territory in which the client resides.
Meal allowance: means an allowance that is provided to assist with meal costs for clients travelling away from home.
Medevac: means a medical evacuation by air charter for clients in emergency situations.
Medical escort: means either a physician, registered nurse, paramedic or any other health professional, for example, nurse practitioner.
Medical transportation benefits: means the travel expenses incurred by clients and escorts for ground, water and air travel, meals and accommodations to access medically required health services not available on the reserve or in the community of residence.
Medically necessary health services: means those health services that are covered under a provincial or territorial health insurance plan and are not available on the reserve or in the community of residence.
Nearest appropriate facility: means the facility located closest to the client's place of residence which is capable of providing the medically required health service appropriate to the client's medical condition. When health professionals are brought into the community to provide the service, the community facility is considered the nearest appropriate facility.
NIHB: means the Non-Insured Health Benefits program.
Non-medical escort: means a travelling companion for a client who is not the client's treating health professional. See "Medical escort" above. For instance, a parent or guardian or family member.
Private accommodations: means overnight accommodations that are not in a commercial establishment but rather at the home of a family relative, friend or acquaintance.
Private vehicle kilometre allowance: means a kilometre rate that is payable for the use of privately owned vehicles to transport clients to medically necessary health services.
Reserve: means land set aside by the federal government for the use and occupancy of an Indian group or band.
Scheduled or coordinated medical transportation benefits: means medical transportation services that are provided on a regular basis from the community by FNIHB or First Nations or Inuit health authorities or organizations for the client to access services.
Service providers: individuals or companies who provide medical transportation benefits and are reimbursed by FNIHB or First Nations or Inuit health authorities or organizations for the services they provide. They may include band and fee-for-service drivers, public transportation carriers, hotels, motels, boarding homes and restaurants.
Appendix B: client eligibility
To be eligible, a client must be a resident of Canada, and one of the following:
- a First Nations individual who is registered according to the Indian Act (commonly referred to as a "Status Indian")
- an Inuk recognized by an Inuit land claim organization as outlined in Inuit client eligibility for NIHB
- a child less than 2 years old, whose parent is an NIHB-eligible client
Refer to the Who is eligible for the NIHB program webpage or contact the NIHB regional office for information.
Appendix C: meals, accommodations, parking and kilometre allowances
Approved medical transportation benefits may include meals, accommodations, kilometre allowances and parking when these expenses are incurred while in transit to access medically required health services at the nearest appropriate facility. For more information, refer to section 9: Meals and accommodations.
Daily meal allowances
When no commercial establishments or boarding homes with negotiated arrangements are available, meals are to be taken in commercial establishments and a meal allowance as per the regional rates may be provided.
Weekly food allowance for extended stays
In cases where a client is required to be close to medical treatment for extended periods of time for ongoing medical care and treatment and is residing in a self-catering accommodations, a weekly allowance as per the regional rate may be provided to assist with the purchase of food items while away from home.
The most efficient and economical accommodations consistent with the medical condition of the client and the costs incurred to travel to and from the accommodations to the medically required health services is to be used at all times.
When a boarding home is not available or it is full, coverage for commercial accommodations will be authorized and reimbursement will be at the rate negotiated with the establishment.
For commercial accommodations, clients who choose alternate accommodations will be responsible for the difference in costs between the 2 or the full cost if accommodations are not refundable (for example, if the client chooses to stay elsewhere and does not cancel).
When staying in private accommodations such as the home of a family member, an allowance as per the regional rate may be provided to the client.
In cases where a stay for an extended period (see section 9.10) is required, every effort must be made to use the most efficient and economical medical transportation benefits, including self-catering accommodations.
Private vehicle kilometre allowance
The most efficient and economical mode of transportation consistent with the urgency of the situation and the medical condition of the client is to be used at all times. This includes either scheduled or coordinated medical transportation benefits provided by FNIHB or a First Nations or Inuit health authority or organization.
When this mode of transportation is the use of a private vehicle, an allowance may be paid as per the regional rate to cover the operating costs of the vehicle. Clients who choose to use their private vehicle when a more efficient and economical mode of transportation is available will be responsible for the difference in cost between the 2.
FNIHB may consider exceptions to the foregoing allowance where it can be demonstrated that due to extreme conditions or unique community location the private vehicle kilometre allowance is clearly inadequate.
Private vehicle parking
Where coverage for a private vehicle allowance is provided, the cost of parking may also be reimbursed, such as the customary charge to other guests in the accommodations establishment. Parking at health facilities will not be reimbursed when scheduled or coordinated medical transportation (for example, shuttle service, taxis) are provided or when the use of a commercial taxi is more economical, unless justification is provided that the client's medical condition and mobility needs necessitates the use of the client's own vehicle such as an adapted vehicle.
Appendix D: privacy
For more information, please contact Indigenous Services Canada's Access to Information and Privacy coordinator. You also have the right to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if you think your personal information has been handled improperly.
Appendix E: appeal process
A client has the right to appeal a denial of a medical transportation benefit under the NIHB program. There are 3 levels of appeal available. Appeals must be submitted in writing and can be initiated by the client, legal guardian or interpreter. At each stage, the appeal must be accompanied by supporting information to justify the exceptional need.
At each level of appeal, an independent appeal structure will review the information and will provide recommendations to the program based on the client's needs, availability of alternatives and NIHB policies.
Level 1 appeal
The first level of appeal is the NIHB regional director, FNIHB.
Level 2 appeal
If the client does not agree with the level 1 appeal decision and wishes to proceed further, the second level of appeal is the regional executive, FNIHB. Joint regional review structures may be in place.
Level 3 appeal
If the appeal is denied at level 2 and the client does not agree with the decision, they may take their request to the final appeal level. The third and final level of appeal is:
Non-Insured Health Benefits
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Jeanne-Mance Building Address Locator 1914A
200 Eglantine Driveway
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
At all levels of the appeal process, the client will be provided with a written explanation of the decision taken.
Appendix F: NIHB audit program
The NIHB audits medical transportation benefit providers to make sure they are accountable, meeting program requirements and complying with the terms and conditions of applicable contribution agreements.
The objectives of the NIHB audit program are to:
- detect billing and claim irregularities, whether through error or fraudulent claims
- ensure that the NIHB client received the services for which the client paid
- ensure that the provider retained the appropriate documentation in support of each claim, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the program
The audit activities are based on accepted industry practices and accounting principles and may be carried out up to a maximum of 2 years from the date of service. Providers must retain a copy of the original authorizing voucher or warrant and receipt in accordance with provincial or territorial requirements and any other information to support a claim on file for 2 years from the date of service for audit purposes. Claims for which the original authorizing voucher or warrant and receipt or supporting documentation is not available for review, including those with prior approvals, may be recovered through the audit program.
Providers must maintain records relating to NIHB clients and provide the authorizing voucher or warrant and receipt for all the services provided in accordance with all applicable laws. All records providers shall treat as confidential so as to comply with all applicable provincial, territorial and federal privacy legislation.