How Health Insurance Works in Canada?

Canada has a universal healthcare system. Healthcare is provided to Canadian permanent residents and citizens at minimal costs. For immigrants, it may not be that cheap. If you are an immigrant in Canada, you will have to pay for some health care and medical services in Canada. If you are planning to make Canada your permanent residence, you must apply for a medicare card as soon as you become a citizen of Canada. 

Almost 11% of the Gross Domestic Product of Canada is invested in healthcare. This amount increases every year. It is safe to say Canada is among the top spenders in healthcare for its citizens. 

How does Healthcare Work in Canada? 

The Canadian government pays for healthcare with the money paid as taxes. This system is internationally recognized. If you are migrating to Canada and planning to apply for Canadian permanent residency, find out how the Canadian healthcare system works. 

What Does the Public Healthcare Cover?

Medicare, the public healthcare system of Canada, gives coverage for basic medical and healthcare treatments and services. Insurance plans are different in different provinces, emergency medical treatments are covered without a medical card. 

Canadian Healthcare Facts


1. Universal healthcare.

For Canadian citizens and permanent residents, the healthcare services are almost free. Healthcare is also made available to pensioners. 

2. Quality healthcare. 

In quality, Canada ranks high with the best healthcare system. 

3. Educational programs. 

Seniors can attend special programs that teach how they can prevent from getting injured and also makes them aware of health risks. These programs receive funding from the government. 


1. Unequal.

Some minority groups like the LGBTQ community, refugees have reported receiving lesser quality healthcare. 

2. Wait times.

Waiting times to receive a doctor’s attention have been above average in Canada. However, this is a major shortcoming of the Canadian healthcare system.

3. Limited coverage. 

Mental health and oral health have limited coverage under the public health care coverage system. The same can be said about sex reassignment surgeries, therapies and assistive devices. 

4. Expensive.

Canada spends a good amount on public healthcare insurance plans. But this amount is taken from taxes paid by the public. This means the people pay higher taxes to keep the system running and working efficiently. 

5. Accessibility in rural areas 

Canada being a large country, most of the attention of the healthcare system is focussed on the main large cities of the country, leaving behind the people who do have resources or reside in the poorer areas. They are often forced to travel to the cities to receive quality healthcare. 

Do You Need Health Insurance in Canada?

Many Canadians get supplementary health insurance apart from the insurance plans of their Provincial Government. This insurance plan is for the medical treatments and procedures that aren’t covered under the public healthcare insurance plans. 

Drugs can be afforded in Canada, but many Canadians buy private medical insurance for coverage of prescription medicines. Coverage of mental health treatments, critical illness, disability can be got through private insurance. Many people also buy travel insurance, insurance for prosthetic devices, home-care and long-term care insurance, as well as insurance for speech therapy, massage, physiotherapy, hospital rooms that are private or semi-private and dental care. 

Private insurance can be through your employer or through an insurance company. Several companies in the market offer health insurance in Canada with different insurance plans, so you have various options. We advise you to do your research, compare different quotes and prices to find the best health insurance company and the best insurance for you. If you are not sure, you can take the help of an insurance consultant to find what best suits your budget, your needs and your lifestyle. 

Benefits of Private Health Insurance

Here are some factors you must consider if you are having doubts about buying health insurance and health insurance costs.

  • You are allowed to deduct the health insurance premium for your private health insurance from your business income tax if you’re self-employed.
  • There are many plans available that are flexible in nature that will best suit the needs of you and your family members. You can research till you find what suits your needs, budgets and lifestyle the best. 
  • Different provincial healthcare programs cover different medical services and treatment, you can get a plan that adjusts to these differences based on your territory. The plan will only cover those procedures and treatments that are not covered by your province so you do not pay twice for coverage of the same medical benefits. 
  • There are flexible payment plans available as well. You have to explore and look for the right one. 

How to Get Health Insurance in Canada

If you are migrating to Canada, you must know that you cannot receive public health insurance coverage till you gain permanent residency. After that too, there is usually a waiting period of three months on average before your coverage begins. In case there is an emergency, you can end up paying 5000 in Canadian dollars for one day stay in a hospital, doubly for intensive care. 

So it is recommended that you get an international health insurance plan, or travel insurance or get private insurance to gain coverage for the time till you become eligible for coverage from the public healthcare of Canada. 

After you gain the coverage of the public Insurance plan, you can get additional health insurance or insurances to cover the medical benefits that are not covered by the public healthcare insurance policies. 

Best Health Insurance Companies in Canada

Here are some of the top private healthcare insurance offering companies in the insurance marketplace. 

  • Manulife: They have insurance plans like Flexcare Health and Dental and FollowMe. Find out what coverage they offer and what they cost. 
  • Sunlife Financial: They have healthcare insurance plans that can provide coverage for all your family members.  Oral healthcare is also included.
  • Great-West Life: They have two healthcare insurances, one for you and your family members and one for you alone. They have Insurance plans like Core, Core Plus, and Core Elite.
  • Ontario Blue Cross: This insurance provider is based in Ontario. They have different types of insurance packages like Basic Plus and Basic Blue Choice.
  • GMS Health Insurance: Some of the plans offered by this company are a Basic Plan, the ExtendaPlan and the Omni Plan.
  • ScotiaLife Health and Dental Insurance: They have insurance plans for individuals as well as families health insurance. You might want to look for another health-care insurance company if you want coverage for a pre-existing condition.
  • Desjardins Insurance: They affordable health insurance plans that you can also customize to suit your needs, budget and lifestyle.
  • CAA: This company is most famous for its auto insurance. They also provide healthcare insurance via Manulife.
  • Green Shield Canada: Their Insurance plan Zone is for you if you are new to private healthcare and Link is best for you if you are leaving a private healthcare plan and are retiring but want your private healthcare coverage to continue. 
  • TD Insurance: They offer critical care as well as critical accident insurance.
  • Ivari: They primarily offer critical care insurance that you should get only if you are someone with a critical illness.