Healthcare In Canada
Boasting one of the highest life expectancies among developed countries, Canada strives to enhance the health of its populations through its publicly funded universal health-care system.
Under the Canada Health Act, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may access free health care services. Foreign workers with valid work permits and international students may also apply for public health insurance. Tourists and other short-term visitors will have to pay out of pocket for medical care.
That being said, all provinces and territories will provide free emergency medical services, even if you don’t have a government health card.
Canadian Medicare provides coverage for approximately 70% of Canadians' healthcare needs, with the remaining 30% paid for privately. Covered healthcare services include essential basic care such as primary care physicians, specialists, dental surgery and hospital services.
Depending on the provincial government, services which are partly or not covered by the public Medicare system, may include dentistry, optometry, some types of paramedical care and prescription medications. For this reason, it is also common for Canadians to have some form of private supplementary health insurance.
Many times, employers will provide private health insurance as part of a benefits package. This usually includes vision and dental care. Make sure to check first to see what kind of insurance benefits await and the level of coverage you will receive.
It is best to apply for a health insurance card as soon as you arrive in Canada. Forms can easily be obtained at doctor’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and immigrant organizations. You will need identification and confirmation of permanent resident status. Depending on the province or territory, you may have a three-month waiting period for coverage.
Consequently, you will need to purchase private health insurance to cover yourself and your family during the waiting period.