What you need to know about Canadian health care before arrival


The Canadian healthcare system is based on the idea that all citizens should be provided with all “medically necessary and hospital physician services.” To that purpose, each of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories funds and administers a national health insurance program. Under federal law, there is no cost-sharing for healthcare services.

While Canadians are guaranteed access to hospital and physician services, each province must determine whether to fund “supplementary” benefits including dental care and prescription drug coverage. To cover these services, almost two-thirds of Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance (or have an employer-sponsored plan).

While Canada’s healthcare system is typically assumed to be funded by the government, spending on these supplemental benefits accounts for 30% of total healthcare costs. According to a 2011 survey, non-government dollars accounted for nearly all dental spending in Canada, with 60% of people covered by employer-sponsored insurance and 35% paying out of pocket. Some Canadian lawmakers have attempted but failed, to expand the scope of the country’s public health plan to include more services.

Even though Canada’s healthcare system is funded by the government, many of the providers are not government workers. Instead, doctors are typically paid a negotiated fee-for-service amount by the government. In Canada, the average primary care physician earns $125,000, compared to $186,000 in the United States.

What is the price range?

Canada spent 11.4 percent of its GDP on health care in 2009, putting it towards the top of the OECD:

This is most likely due to Canada’s cheaper healthcare per-unit cost. An MRI costs $824 north of the border, compared to $1,200 in the United States. It’s also about lowering administrative costs: According to a 2010 Health Affairs research, doctors in Ontario, Canada, spent $22,205 per year dealing with the single-payer agency, compared to $82,975 for commercial insurance firms, Medicare, and Medicaid in the United States.

How well does the healthcare system in Canada function?

In its yearly assessments of worldwide healthcare systems, the OECD gives the Canadian healthcare system good grades on outcomes. In a 2011 report, the international body observed that “Canada’s breast and colorectal cancer survival rates are among the greatest in the OECD.” “Canada also excels in primary care, minimizing expensive hospital admissions due to chronic illnesses like asthma and uncontrolled diabetes.”

Wait times in Canada are generally longer than in other nations, particularly for specialists and elective surgery. In a 2010 Commonwealth Fund study, 59 percent of respondents said they had waited more than four weeks for a specialist consultation, more than twice the number in the US:

Canada has only recently begun to take action in this regard: Each province was required to set evidence-based wait times for specific treatments in 2005. In a 2010 report, the Commonwealth Fund stated that “provinces have made significant success in efforts to control and reduce wait times, and many now reach wait-time objectives for at least 75 percent of patients.” “When available, trend data shows that wait times for joint replacement, care restoration, cardiac surgery, and diagnostic imaging scans are reducing.”

Who is qualified for medical assistance?

In Canada, public health insurance is available to all citizens and permanent residents. Most healthcare services are free with it. Instead of a single national plan, Canada’s public health care system is made up of provincial and territorial health insurance plans that all follow the same set of guidelines. Each province gives a provincial healthcare card, which you must present to a hospital or medical clinic while seeking treatment.

What is the procedure for obtaining a government-issued health insurance card?

Those who qualify for public health insurance should apply for a card from their province government as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. An application form can be obtained online or in-person from your province’s ministry of health. You’ll need to produce identification like your birth certificate or passport, as well as your confirmation of permanent residency (IMM 5992) or permanent resident card while applying for a health insurance card. Each family member will receive their own health care with a unique health identification number in most jurisdictions. Only adults receive health insurance cards in Manitoba, while children are covered on their parents’ cards. In the event of an emergency, it’s a good idea to keep your health insurance card on you at all times.

In the process of getting coverage:

Before acquiring health coverage, most provinces require new residents to wait a length of time. This timeframe is three months in most provinces. You can apply for short-term private health insurance coverage during this period. This is especially important for families with young children or elderly arrivals who may require medical attention during the wait.

If you have a medical emergency before your provincial health card comes and don’t have private health care, you could be hit with a large charge. The Interim Federal Health Program may provide free interim coverage to refugees and other newcomers who are not yet eligible for provincial health insurance.

Community health centers:

While it is suggested that newcomers obtain private health insurance while waiting for government coverage to begin, community health centers provide a less expensive option for people without provincial coverage who require basic medical care. Community health centers are non-profit organizations that employ doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners to provide health services for free or at a low cost. These services, however, may have a long waiting list.

Following provincial health care, private health insurance is used:

Even if you already have public health care, you should look into private health insurance. Services not covered by your province’s health care plan can be covered with private insurance. Dental work, private hospital rooms, prescription medicines, and prescription eyeglasses are all examples of these expenses. Some firms provide access to their private group health insurance policies to their employees.

Assistance in an emergency:

To contact emergency services in the event of a medical emergency, dial 911. (ambulance, fire, and police). If you can get to the hospital without the help of an ambulance, all hospitals provide an emergency entrance where individuals in need of medical help can seek assistance.

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