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Health Insurance Options and Healthcare in Canada for Non-Residents

Healthcare is all about caring for our bodies and ensuring we stay healthy. Canada has a special system called “universal healthcare,” meaning everyone there can get medical help when needed.

But what if you’re not from Canada? Can you still get healthcare there? That’s where health insurance comes in! Health insurance is like a special membership that helps cover the costs of medical care.

By the end, you’ll be an expert on health insurance and better understand how healthcare works in the Great White North. So, grab a pen and paper, put on your thinking caps, and let’s dive right in! 

Understanding Healthcare In Canada

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In Canada, the government has rules and standards for the Medicare program. Medicare’s goal is to ensure everyone in the country can access the same level of medical care. However, healthcare availability can differ depending on where you live. 

Each province and territory in Canada is in charge of running the national insurance program. That means each place has its own rules for signing up and what is covered. But if you’re already enrolled in Medicare in your home province or territory, you will still have insurance when you visit other parts of Canada.

However, if you’re a foreigner visiting Canada, you will need international health insurance to cover your hospital stays and other medical care.

How to Get Insurance Health Care in Canada for Non-Residents

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Simply follow these essential healthcare action items to familiarize yourself with the health insurance options as a non-resident in Canada and find one that best suits you.

Step 1. Get a Provincial Health Insurance Card

To get medical help in Canada, you need a special health insurance card. This card is given to people who live in different provinces or territories. If you’re a non-resident in Canada, you must apply to get this card from your province’s government.

Let’s say you’re in Ontario. You would go to Service Ontario to apply for the card. On their websites, they will tell you where you can go in person to apply. They will also tell you what documents you need to bring with the address of the closest location. Take note that you have to go in person to apply. 

The documents you need might differ depending on your province, but they will usually ask for proof that you live there, a government ID, and papers showing that you’re allowed to live in Canada.

Once you send in your application and they check it, they will mail the health card to your home. Whenever you go to the hospital or see a doctor, you need to show them this card as it lets them know that you have health insurance and that they can help you.

Step 2.  Understanding Health Coverage in Canada

Even if you don’t have a special health card, you can still get free emergency medical services if you have an urgent problem. If you ever have an emergency, visiting the nearest hospital is best. But be aware that if you go to a walk-in clinic and you’re not a resident of that province or territory, they might charge you some money.

The government’s insurance usually covers basic medical services, like regular check-ups and treatments. However, some things like prescription medicines, dental care (taking care of your teeth), physiotherapy (exercises to help you feel better), ambulance rides, and glasses might need to be covered. 

That means you might have to pay for those things yourself if you don’t have another insurance plan. It’s a good idea for them to ask their employer about it before they start working.  So make sure that you understand the costs of healthcare in Canada for non-residents.

Step 3. Finding a Family Doctor

In Canada, most people have a special doctor they visit whenever they need medical help. This doctor is called a family doctor. 

If you need to see a specialist, your family doctor can also help you get a referral, which is like a recommendation to see another doctor who knows a lot about a specific problem.

Here are some ways to find one:

  • Ask someone you know, like a friend, relative, or someone you work with.
  • Get in touch with an organization that helps immigrants.
  • Contact a health center in your community.
  • Look on the websites of the province where you live. They might have information about finding a family doctor.
  • Check out Digital healthcare or healthcare apps and explore Telemedicine.

Other Health Insurance Options for Non-Residents in Canada

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Aside from following the steps mentioned above, you can also check these options.

There are special private insurance options available in Canada for U.S. citizens. One example is the GeoBlue Xplorer plan, which provides comprehensive medical insurance for U.S. citizens while they are in Canada. This plan also gives access to a network of doctors and hospitals in the United States. 

Another option is Cigna Global Medical, which offers private health insurance plans in Canada for people who are not residents, immigrants, or foreign citizens currently living in the country. This plan provides extensive coverage, great benefits, and high-quality service.

Additionally, here are some other options to explore:

  • Manulife: They have plans like Flexcare Health and Dental and FollowMe.
  • Sunlife Financial: They provide extended healthcare insurance for whole families, including dental coverage.
  • Great-West Life: They offer healthcare packages for families and individuals, such as Core, Core Plus, and Core Elite.
  • Ontario Blue Cross: In Ontario, they have different plans, like Basic Blue Choice and Basic Plus.
  • GMS Health Insurance: Their plans include the Omni Plan, ExtendaPlan, and Basic Plan.
  • ScotiaLife Health and Dental Insurance: They accept individuals and families but might have stricter rules for people with preexisting conditions.
  • Desjardins Insurance: They offer affordable and customizable health insurance.
  • CAA: While they are mostly known for auto insurance, they also have a healthcare branch through Manulife.
  • Green Shield Canada has two individual plans called Zone (for newcomers to private healthcare) and Link (suitable for individuals transitioning from a private healthcare plan to retirement).
  • TD Insurance: They offer critical care and critical accident insurance.
  • Ivari: They specialize in critical care insurance, which is for individuals who have a critical illness.

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Health Insurance for International Students in Canada

International students studying in Canadian colleges and universities might have the chance to join Canada’s public health plan for students. However, the eligibility rules are different in each province or territory. Even if you can sign up for public health insurance, there might be a waiting period before enrolling.

If you must wait to join the public insurance or need a private plan to cover you while you’re studying in Canada, getting an international medical plan specifically designed for students is a good idea. These plans are made for students, and they are affordable and provide comprehensive coverage. But take note to meet the insurance requirements of your school.

Health Insurance for Non-Resident Short-Term Visitors

For short-term visitors, you might not be covered by the country’s health insurance plan. That means you need to think about how to get health insurance before you come here. If you’re planning to stay for a long time, like if you’re moving here, you should get international health insurance. This helps you avoid paying a lot of money if you get sick or hurt.

If you’re only coming to Canada for a short time, like less than a year, you can get travel medical insurance. It’s a special kind of insurance just for travelers. It’s also important to think about what you’ll do during your trip. If you like doing adventurous sports, like skiing, you should choose a plan that covers those activities. If you hurt yourself while snowboarding, your medical care will still be paid for.

FAQs

Can Americans Have Health Insurance in Canada?

Even though Canada and the United States are close to each other, Americans can’t easily get health insurance in Canada. The health insurance you have in the U.S. probably won’t work when you visit Canada, no matter how long you stay! 

Unless you’re a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or studying at a Canadian university in a province or territory that provides health coverage to students, you’ll need to get a special insurance plan for people from other countries living in Canada.

Is it Free to Get Health Care in Canada for Non-Residents?

No, healthcare in Canada is not free for non-residents or visitors. The Canadian government does not cover the costs of hospital or medical services costs for people just visiting. That’s why it’s important to get health insurance that will help pay for any medical expenses before you come to Canada.

What Types of Healthcare Coverage Are There in Canada?

In Canada, there are two main levels of medical insurance: basic and extended. Each level serves a different purpose and covers different types of medical services.

How Much Does Health Insurance Cost in Canada Per Month?

Private health insurance in Canada costs approximately $756 per year, which is about $63 per month. These figures have been gathered by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) to give an idea of the country’s average cost of private health insurance.

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