Congratulations, Canada is a beautiful and welcoming country to settle in! However, you might have many questions about how you will get your health covered. How does healthcare in Canada work? Can you apply to healthcare in Canada as a non-citizens? Or do you need an international health insurance? We will help you answer these questions on this page.
How does healthcare in Canada work?
The healthcare system in Canada is called Medicare (should not be mistaken with the American Medicare) and is publicly funded (payed by taxpayers). It is possible to apply to the universal health insurance of the province you are moving in (13 provincial health insurances plans). Each province has its own healthcare system, therefore healthcare services are determined from region to region.
Generally speaking, the Canadian healthcare system covers what is medically necessary and emergency hospital treatments. Dental treatments, vision aids, physiotherapy, check-ups are not covered.
What is covered from one Canadian province to another?
Applying to a Canadian territory will also give you access to basic health services of any other territory. So, if you plan to travel across the country, medically necessary health services should be covered in the out-of-province health coverage. However, it may vary in costs as for additional medical services, such as hospitalization, ambulance and repatriation. Do not forget when you travel to always carry your provincial health insurance card with you. It will avoid you to pay upfront some medical expenses if you have to visit a doctor outside of your province of residence.
Click to check out what is covered in each province in Canada.
Who is eligible for healthcare in Canada?
The Canada Health Act states that all residents of a province can be insured with Medicare. This means that you are eligible to the Canadian public health insurance as long as you declare your residence in the country. A traveler or visitor will not be insured.
As an expat in Canada, you should check if you meet the residence requirements defined by your province. Most of time, it is required that you live and stay physically in your home province at least 183 days a year to be considered as a permanent resident. You can travel freely the other 6 months (182 days) of the year, but make sure to respect the time period so you don’t lose your eligibility. Otherwise, you would have to stay three straight months in your home province (and be able to prove it) to be reconsidered a resident.
How much does public health insurance cost in Canada?
The public health care system in Canada is not free; Canadians pay for healthcare through taxes. It is often difficult for them to determine the real value of their annual contribution, since they are not billed directly and no determined health insurance tax is fixed whatsoever. According to a recent report of 2020, an individual earning an income of $44k contributes for $4,9k annually, while a family of four contributes for $14,5k. This figures does not include a premium for a private medical cover.
Do you need private medical insurance in Canada?
The choice is up to you; however, it is recommended to purchase a private health insurance to extend your medical coverage and be on the safer side, especially if you are self-employed or work in freelance. Most of those contracts are paid through employment-sponsored group policies, but you can also contract an insurance policy with private international health insurance companies. Note that two thirds of Canadian residents have themselves an additional private medical coverage.