The Guide to Understand Canadian Health Insurance and Healthcare System

Canada is one of the most accommodative countries for expats. Of the country’s developed systems, healthcare remains one of the most advanced. 

Canada has a universal healthcare system that protects the citizens and permanent residents. The government uses taxes to fund essential medical services for its citizens. 

Unlike other regions, Canada does not have a centralized healthcare system. It has 10 provinces within 3 territories, each having its healthcare plan. The hospitals are also predominantly privately run, with the state then reimbursing for the costs. 

While healthcare might be quite a breeze for the citizens, it’s not as such for expats. The foreign expats receive medical care depending on immigration status and health insurance coverage. You thus need to budget for Healthcare costs when moving to Canada. 

This guide explains Canadian healthcare system for your next visit. 

How does the Canadian Healthcare System Work?

Canada has one of the most detailed healthcare systems in the world. It provides comprehensive coverage for its citizens and permanent residents. Non-residents, however, have to cover most of the healthcare services. 

The Canadian healthcare system is accessible and works to perfection. The major concerns however are the long wait times. 

Canadian healthcare covers only the hospital physician and the medically necessary services. However, the services can also vary within the various territories. Most of the regional medical care cover emergency hospital treatment, several primary and secondary care, and maternity services. 

Regional healthcare does not cover other medical aspects like prescription medicine, dental and eye care, ambulance services, and psychological care. The residents might also have to pay for tests required for processes like when getting a driver’s license. 

The type of medical services can also vary depending on age. The pensioners tend to get almost all the services freely. 

Pros and Cons of the Canadian Healthcare 

The Canadian healthcare system comes with several advantages and negative aspects. 

One of the positives about Canadian healthcare is its universality. The system provides equal medical care to every citizen and permanent resident. 

The high quality of Canadian medical care also makes it stand out. The system also provides educational programs to the seniors hence reducing various injuries and health risks. 


One of the major concerns that come with Canadian medical care is the long wait times. Free medical access means a lot of people seeking medical services from a limited number of professionals. 

There have also been inequality concerns with the medical systems. Some of the minority groups claim limitations to medical access in the country. 

The medical coverage does not cover several aspects hence the need to still have a medical budget. Generally, medical care in Canada is also expensive. 

Why Is the Canadian Healthcare So Expensive?

While the universal healthcare system might seem free, it is quite expensive. The citizens pay a lot in taxes to cover the healthcare services. They also have to pay highly for specialized medical procedures. 

Expats have to pay even more. Given they don’t access universal coverage, they must cover all expenses. This can become unbearable when paying out-of-pocket. 

The best way to manage the high costs is by taking medical insurance cover. 

Do You Need Private Health Insurance in Canada?

Given the free medical access in Canada, you might wonder if medical insurance is necessary. Having private medical insurance cover is important for both the citizens and expats. 

The system does not cover everything. Your Canadian travel expat insurance can then cover every other thing left out of the universal care. For expats, the private medical insurance cover is the only way to get medical care in Canada. 

You can get an insurance cover provided by your employer. If not, several private insurance companies are offering a wide range of health insurance plans. Research the various policies to find the cover that meets your budget and has the needed benefits. 

Most of the Canadian private health insurance companies offer simple and flexible payment options. 

How to Get Health Insurance in Canada

The high costs of healthcare in Canada for expats mean you are better off with a health insurance policy. The easiest way to get the cover is when it is given by the employer. In such a case, the human resource department of your workplace will handle everything. 

If your work doesn’t provide a health cover, consider the various insurance providers in Canada. They provide different packages depending on the amount you are willing to pay for premium, age, and other factors. 

Advice for Expats Moving to Canada

The healthcare system in Canada is one of the best in the world. The country has top health facilities and professionals to look after you. However, this comes at a cost. Keep safe by taking a medical insurance policy.