Understand Canada
Fresh Life Canada

How Health Insurance Works in Canada?

When choosing a country to make your home, it is critical that you consider the country’s healthcare system.  With so many individuals preparing to emigrate, it’s no surprise that many people initially look into moving to Canada solely for its globally recognized healthcare system.

Once you make the move to Canada, you will need to know when you are eligible and how to apply for a health card.  We’ve put together a simple breakdown on how to navigate the Canadian healthcare system.

This is how health insurance works in Canada!

How the System Works

In Canada, there is a single payer healthcare system in place, meaning that your healthcare is funded by taxpayers and the majority of your medical expenses are covered with no out-of-pocket cost to you.

The system is set up and paid for by the Canadian tax system, so taxpayers automatically contribute through income and sales taxes.  Medical coverage is nationwide, so as a resident with public insurance in Newfoundland, you can still receive care when in Ontario, British Columbia, or anywhere else in the country.

Who is Eligible and How to Apply

Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply for public health insurance. Depending upon your situation, you may also qualify for eligibility if you are an international student or a foreign worker here on an official work permit.

In some provinces there is a waiting period of three months before you can apply for health insurance.  After this waiting period, you are required to get a health insurance card from the province you are living in to show proof of coverage each time you go to receive care.

While the process and paperwork required to receive this card can fluctuate based on your province, the best course of action is to reach out to your provincial Ministry of Health well in advance to learn more about what to expect.

Don’t wait to apply until you need healthcare coverage.  Without a health card, you could be out of pocket hundreds of dollars for an emergency room trip.

What Is Not Covered by Universal Healthcare System

Because each province has its own healthcare system, you should refer to your individual province’s Ministry of Health for a clear list of what is and is not covered by universal healthcare.

Generally speaking most appointments and treatments are covered.  What is not usually covered, or requires an extra fee, are dental care, prescription drugs, prescription eyeglasses, physiotherapy, and ambulance transport may not be covered. 

Many Canadians choose to purchase private insurance to cover those expenses, though some employers may also have insurance plans as part of their benefits package.