Canada offers its citizens and permanent residents a high-quality healthcare system and social insurance that covers most of their healthcare expenses...as long as the care is provided by the public sector. However, the structural saturation of the health system very often leads insured persons to seek treatment in the private sector, whose fees are very high and entirely at the individual’s expense if they do not have supplementary health insurance.
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Health insurance for expats in Canada
How does the healthcare system work in Canada?
Every citizen and permanent resident in Canada benefits, unconditionally, from a universal health insurance system. On simple presentation of their health insurance card, they benefit free of charge from all primary care provided by the public sector: general and specialist consultations, emergencies, tests, exams, hospitalisation, necessary medicines, etc.
This care is also offered by the many private clinics that exist in the country, but it is not covered by the Canadian health insurance system―the expenses in this case are entirely borne by the insured.
In addition, some forms of care are not reimbursed by the Canadian social insurance:
- Dental care (unless provided in hospital)
- Most prescription drugs
> Important to know: the Health Insurance system is managed independently by each Canadian province. If you move from one province to another, you will need to apply for a new health card.
How to choose health insurance in Canada?
Taking out supplementary health insurance in Canada is therefore essential, particularly to cover expenses that are not included under the standard health insurance coverage, but also to benefit from the reimbursement of care provided in the private sector.
Moreover, public hospitals are increasingly overcrowded as a result of a shortage of private-practice physicians over the last few years. Waiting times are often very long, pushing insured persons to turn to private facilities, which are more available.
To deal with this reality, the vast majority of residents in Canada purchase supplementary health insurance (when it is not offered by their employer, or additionally if their employee benefits do not meet their needs). By opting for international health insurance, expats can enjoy more specific benefits and services, tailored to their profile.
The cost of healthcare in Canada: examples of reimbursements
For a consultation with a specialist, you will have to pay about CAD 475 or € 325
APRIL International up to 325 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
For a scaling at a dentist's, you will spend on average 140 CAD, or 96 €
APRIL International up to 96 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
HOSPITALISATION - MATERNITY
A natural delivery without complications (3-day hospitalisation) will cost you CAD 25,000 or about €17,000
APRIL International up to 6000 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 11000€**
Reasonable costs of care in the private sector, APRIL International data 12/2019.
* Example of reimbursement with MyHealth International - Comfort
** Example of the amount to be paid by the insured after reimbursement
Care in Canada
Choosing hospitals in Canada
Both at the public and private levels, the Canadian medical system provides patients with an exceptional quality of care. Newsweek's famous annual ranking of the world's best hospitals lists no less than 10 institutions in the country among its top 100 (including the Toronto General Hospital, ranked 7th, the Montreal General Hospital, and the Vancouver General Hospital).
The main difficulty for policyholders lies in the choice of a care path. As general practitioners or family doctors become increasingly rare, people often have to turn to either walk-in clinics (a modality that is growing more and more in Canada) or hospital services for a consultation. As a result, public hospitals are often overwhelmed by the demand, and waiting times are getting longer for both emergency and scheduled care. Private institutions, on the other hand, are able to guarantee speedier care.
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