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How Canadian Healthcare Works – 3 Things You Should Know
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How Canadian Healthcare Works – 3 Things You Should Know

  • A general overview of how it works, especially about health care in Canada for non-residents.

Considering moving to Canada? Or maybe you’re a new immigrant or refugee wanting to learn more about Canada’s healthcare system. Whatever the case, you want to do your due diligence and educate yourself before beginning your adventure in the Great White North.

Well, we’ve got you covered.   

Medicare, AKA Canada’s public healthcare system, is mainly funded by taxes (from 15% to 33%) from the country’s 13 provinces and territories. What’s unique about Canada’s system is that each province or territory has their own separate healthcare program. Who’s eligible for the program? What about health care in Canada for non-residents? Well, all citizens, permanent residents, certain people with Canadian work permits, and some refugees qualify. 

The Million Dollar Question: Is Healthcare in Canada Free?  

The answer to that question would be yes and no. While patients don’t have to pay out of pocket for essential medical care in a physician’s office or a hospital, they may have to pay for dental, vision care, rehabilitation, prescription drugs outside of a hospital, and cosmetic surgery deemed medically unnecessary. Things like private rooms and physical therapy are also not covered under Medicare.   

Accessing And Receiving Canadian Healthcare   

Alan*(name changed to protect privacy), 45, has a memorable anecdote about his experience with the Canadian healthcare system. A Canadian citizen living in Guelph, Ontario, he’d gone to see a physician about his lack of sleep, figuring, “What the heck? It’s free anyway; I should probably get it checked out.” He was diagnosed with insomnia. However, he also temporarily lost his driver’s license due to the diagnosis mentioned above. In case he falls asleep at the wheel. Better safe than sorry, right, Canadian Medicare?   

Anyway, we digress. The first thing you should do is determine whether or not you can sign up for Medicare. You should know if health care in Canada for non-residents has the same benefits. If you’re eligible, make sure to follow the enrollment process for the province or territory you’re going to be staying in or already residing in. Click on the links below to access information relevant to your province or territory:  

Alberta: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)  

British Columbia: Medical Services Plan (MSP)  

Manitoba: Health and Seniors Care  

New Brunswick: Medicare Registration  

Newfoundland and Labrador: Health and Community Services (MCP)  

Northwest Territories: Health and Social Services  

Nova Scotia: Medical Services Insurance (MSI)  

Nunavut: Nunavut Health Care Plan  

Ontario: Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)  

Prince Edward Island: PEI Health Card  

Quebec: Québec Health Insurance Plan  

Saskatchewan: eHealth Saskatchewan  

Yukon: Yukon Health Insurance Plan  

If you’re ineligible, you may want to consider private health insurance. A plus point of private health insurance is covering many areas not typically applicable in Medicare, like psychotherapy, psychiatry, massages, and more.   

As a foreigner or ex-pat, private health insurance is highly recommended. If you’re just visiting or travelling for a short time in Canada, we’d advise getting traveller’s insurance. While you can always skip getting travel insurance, it will cost an arm and a leg to pay for medical treatment if anything does happen to you.   

To get an idea of costs for non-citizens, here are some charges you can expect to pay, according to Queensway Carleton Hospital:   

  • X-Ray, varied (plus hospital visit fee)  

            An uninsured resident of Canada: $33 and up  

          A non-resident of Canada: $49 and up  

  • MRI per time block (plus Hospital visit fee)  

          An uninsured resident of Canada: $480  

           A non-resident of Canada: $2,030  

  • CT Scan (plus Hospital visit fee)  

           An uninsured resident of Canada: $599  

          A non-resident of Canada : $2,130  

  • High-Risk Ultrasound (plus Hospital visit fee)  

          An uninsured resident of Canada: $302  

           A non-resident of Canada: $359  

  • Lab Tests, each (plus the Hospital visit fee)  

           An uninsured resident of Canada: $128  

           A non-resident of Canada: $360  

  • Ambulance charges for each trip  

          An uninsured resident of Canada pays: $240  

           A non-resident of Canada pays: $240  

  • Private transportation charges for each trip  

           An uninsured resident of Canada: $138  

           A non-resident of Canada: $138  

  • Casting, varied  

           Uninsured residents of Canada: $20 and up  

            Non-residents of Canada: $20 and up  

  • Rehabilitation and mobility appliances, varied  

            An uninsured resident of Canada: $2 – $240  

            A non-resident of Canada: $2 – $240  

  • Physician fees  

            As billed by the Physician & are in addition to hospital fees.  

The Public’s Opinion on Canadian Medicare  

The general public seems to be happy with Medicare. In a 2020 survey, 75% of Canadians were proud of their healthcare system.   

That’s not to say there’s no room for improvement, especially for health care in Canada for non-residents. While Canada certainly has high-quality, [nearly] free healthcare, its wait times on average are a median length of 25.6 weeks, which seems like an astronomical number. However, this doesn’t seem to deter most Canadians.   

Nathan Rubin, founder of Millennial Politics, a website (and podcast) targeted toward young American progressive people, posted a tweet complimenting Canadian healthcare. His tweet caught the attention of a supposed troll.   

The responder, who goes by the username of @USSCobblerguy, attracted a lot of attention from fellow Twitter users after he questioned the quality and wait times of Canadian Medicare. Take a look below at some of the surprisingly heartfelt responses expressing their outpouring of love for the Great White North’s healthcare system.   

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it informative. Please hit the like button and comment below in answer to the question, “What’s your favourite thing about Canadian healthcare?”

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