One of the benefits of living in Canada is having access to universal health care that covers a large part of the medical care you receive if you have an illness or accident. However, this coverage is not available immediately for new immigrants or Canadians moving back to Canada after a long absence. Fortunately, there are supplementary insurance solutions specifically designed to provide all the coverage you need, as soon as you arrive.
How do I become eligible for the government health insurance plan?
If you are a newcomer to Canada, you must apply for the government health insurance plan in your new province. In Quebec, for example, you will apply through the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). The same procedure applies for both people immigrating to Canada and Canadian expatriates returning home.
You may not register until after your arrival. Once you do, there is typically a three-month waiting period before you receive your health insurance card, so we recommend sending in your application as quickly as possible. To learn how to apply, visit the website of the province in which you will be living.
Why do I need health insurance?
Many people do not realize how expensive it can be to receive health care at a clinic or hospital after a medical emergency when you don’t have coverage in place. Without health insurance, you are responsible for paying all medical fees incurred following an accident, injury or sudden illness. The bill can skyrocket, and without insurance, these expenses will come out of your pocket.
For this reason, the Canadian government suggests that newcomers purchase private health insurance while waiting to become eligible for their provincial health insurance plan. Your insurance plan must cover medical expenses and costs associated with medical emergencies.
What type of insurance do I need while waiting for my RAMQ coverage?
Blue Cross insurance for visitors to Canada covers you for emergency medical and dental care and hospitalization fees before your RAMQ coverage takes effect.
Originally designed for tourists travelling to Canada, this plan also meets your needs if you are:
- A new immigrant to Canada
- A foreign student or international worker
- A Canadian returning home after a long absence
Once I’ve received my RAMQ card, do I need additional coverage?
Although your provincial health insurance plan will cover many medical expenses in the event of accident or illness, not all medical expenses are covered. Some examples include:
- Certain prescription medications
- Dental care
- Eye exams
- Services offered by certain health care professionals (psychotherapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc.)
It is important that Canadians purchase private supplemental health insurance to cover all additional expenses that are not covered by the provincial plan.