canada healthcare

Healthcare System Information & Coverage for Expatriates Living in Canada

Canada ranks second in the world as the best country to live in, by way of cultural and economic influence, entrepreneurship, overall sustainability, and quality of life. Canada’s healthcare sector is also top-notch and has many times been considered an inspiration for the healthcare system of its immediate neighbor, the United States. Among other things, expatriates living in Canada or moving to Canada must learn about the country’s healthcare system before making their big transfer.

They can choose an international health insurance plan that provides health cover in case of an unforeseen situation; an emergency that could inflate hospital expenses. The Government of Canada provides a great overview of Canada’s healthcare system.

Overview of the Healthcare System in Canada

Canada’s universal healthcare system is funded by provincial taxpayers, and it is very generous towards its citizens and permanent residents. The quality of care and facilities in Canadian hospitals are first-rate, however, many people often complain about long waiting times before they finally get to see a doctor. This forces many patients to seek private healthcare options instead.

Expats with temporary residency are not eligible to benefit from Canada’s public healthcare system. They can instead opt for private health insurance. Such insurance plans are generally expensive but ensure that the expats receive high-quality treatment under the watchful eyes of leading specialists in the country.

Expats, who are going to stay in Canada permanently, should apply for Medicare, a medical card, immediately after arriving in the country. The wait time to receive the Medicare card is around 3 months. Once the documentation is complete, expats can begin to seek Medicare treatment in the country. If the expat is traveling with a family, every family member needs a unique personal identification number and an individual Medicare card.

Public Healthcare Facilities and Standards in Canada

The public healthcare system in Canada follows the provisions listed under the Canada Health Act of 1987. There is no national system. These provisions ensure that patients can get comprehensive high-quality medical care as and when needed. Despite the system being funded publicly through provincial taxes with additional money from the Federal government, the doctors and hospitals in the public healthcare system run their businesses and bill the government for their services. Based on a survey carried out by WHO, Canada ranks higher than the USA in terms of better healthcare facilities. This means that the Canadian healthcare system is superior to the one in the USA, private healthcare facilities included.

The different health systems run by each province or territory that are fully publicly funded and are supposed to live up to national standards of the Canada Health Act. It is a universal health system that pays for most of the medical care of Canadians, such as hospital visits or stays, scans, tests, cancer care, doctors visits, but not all medical care. Permanent Canadian residents are eligible for coverage under his/her provincial health plan with little or no cost. Some provinces, such as BC and Ontario, charge an employer payroll tax to fund the system. The coverage is portable as Canadians travel from one province to another, but once a Canadian moves to another province, they have to register for cover in that province. Note that the universal healthcare systems in Canada cover little no care outside of Canada, so Canadians traveling outside the country need to purchase travel medical insurance and Canadian expats need to buy global health insurance coverage. Canadian expats living abroad are no eligible for coverage inside or outside of Canada through the public system

Private Health Insurance in Canada

Canadian public healthcare is often the preferred medium for locals to seek medical care in Canada. However, due to long waiting times, many of them also opt for a supplementary private health insurance plan on an individual basis or through extended group health insurance plans. Expats in Canada who are not permanent residents also need private health insurance to seek quality treatment and they may not qualify for government health coverage, especially if they do not meet the residency requirements. Private healthcare in Canada is not only better but also has shorter wait times, and so is the first choice of the expats who are not able to be covered by provincial health plans or even private extended health policies which require that provincial health coverage be in place.

Medicines and Pharmacies

Expats can easily locate pharmacies across Canadian cities. These pharmacies stock all the required prescription drugs. However, since some of these drugs are expensive, expats can retain the bills and claim the cost from the health insurer at a later time. Medication costs in Canada are still dramatically lower than in the USA. Expats who have a good international health insurance plan can get their insurer to reimburse all the drug-related expenses.

Emergency Ambulance Services in Canada

Canadian residents can dial 911 toll-free to call for all kinds of emergency services, including ambulance services. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Canada are managed by the representatives of respective territories where they are based.

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Canada

The Canadian healthcare system is a robust one. The country’s hospitals employ some of the best doctors and specialists from around the world. Though universal healthcare plans are highly advanced, the need for costly private hospitals remains. Expats can seek a comprehensive international health insurance plan that can help them manage their medical expenses.

Many companies currently offer international insurance plans in Canada. Some of the best among those include GeoBlue Xplorer plan for American expats and the  Cigna Global plan. You can contact Expat Financial to compare the health insurance plans currently available to expats in Canada to identify the best option for you.