The government of Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system and provides free healthcare up to a point for all its citizens. All citizens, local and permanent residents are eligible for health coverage. So, if you are a new resident in Canada, here’s what you need to know in order to get your healthcare insurance.
Who is eligible
Permanent residents and Canadian citizens are covered for healthcare insurance. Temporary residents who include workers and international students are also eligible for healthcare insurance. Only selective provinces in Canada offer healthcare insurance to temporary residents. These are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories and Sasketchewan. The insurance period may last up to 6 to12 months depending on duration of stay. Visitors to Canada are not eligible for healthcare insurance and must opt for private insurance.
What they cover
Residents of Canada are covered for all basic medical services such as prescription medications, dental care, physiotherapy, ambulance services and prescription eyeglasses. These services are only covered by hospitals, walk in clinics will charge separately. Residents who want additional services covered must apply for supplementary health insurance.
How to apply
Application for healthcare insurance must be done through Canadian government website. Each province has its own rules for healthcare insurance. However, generally an application has to be filled and submitted. On completing this process a health card will be issued to you, which has to be produced each time you receive medical services, in order to get your coverage. Obtaining a health card may take up to 3 months, till then all residents are eligible for emergency health services but no other coverage. A health card covers the medical bills of all your dependants as well.
Documents to bring
Three basic proof documents need to be brought in general to get healthcare. First there is proof of residency that includes a driver’s license, an identity card issued by the federal government, any utility bill of your home or your most recent pay stub / bank statement. Next, there is proof of identity that must be a government issued photo ID. These include your passport, resident card or driver’s license. Lastly, there is your legal entitlement to be in Canada documents, which include a Canadian citizenship card, birth certificate, permanent citizen card and a Canada entry document. Temporary residents in Canada, including workers and international students, need to bring their work, study permits to apply for healthcare insurance respectively.
Those who are not covered
Those who are not eligible to be covered by these provinces can be covered by the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). This institution covers Canadian armed forces and federal inmates. It also covers resettled refugees, refugee claimants and protected persons. Thus people who are eligible under these criteria should apply for coverage under this institution.
The Canadian government provides good healthcare services, ensured by federal standards. It does not interfere with the confidential documents of the patients thus respecting their privacy. Billing and claims of the insurance are handled between the physician and the government. The simple, yet effective administration of the Canadian health system has led to its success.