Health Insurance for New Canadians

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People make the decision to move to Canada permanently for many reasons.In some cases, it's to join family members who have already made the move. For others, it's work opportunities and a chance at a new life. One of the key factors when choosing a new place to call home is the availability of healthcare once you arrive. With health services provided to permanent residents by their province or territory of residence, it's easy to see why Canada ranks high on the list of desirable countries for new immigrants.

There is a long to-do list leading up to a move like this and we hope this helps you get your healthcare needs sorted out in time for a smooth transition once you arrive at your new home.

Before You Arrive in Canada

While it’s true that Canadian residents receive healthcare from the government, that health insurance eligibility only comes to new Canadians after a required waiting period. If you are arriving in the country as a refugee claimant, you may be eligible for temporary coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program. Otherwise, until you have fulfilled that requirement, you are responsible for your own healthcare costs.

Medical treatments in Canada are expensive for the uninsured. While there may be some options available after your arrival in Canada, you will have more choices if you arrange health insurance for visitors to Canada before you leave your current country of residence. Furthermore, if you have already sought treatment in Canada for a health condition, you may be subject to a waiting period or a pre-existing condition exclusion if you purchase coverage after your arrival.

Applying for Health Insurance in Canada

Once you are settled in your new province of residence, it’s time to apply for health insurance. The usual waiting period for Government-sponsored health insurance coverage is 90 days. The process and requirements vary slightly by province or territory, and by the conditions of your VISA. You must check with the respective ministry of health to get the relevant, detailed instructions that apply to you.

Prepare for Services Not Covered

Canadians are in the fortunate position of having most of their healthcare needs covered by government insurance. However, there are some notable exclusions from the provincial and territorial health insurance plans. Services such as prescription drugs, eye exams and glasses, dentist’s visits, ambulance rides and physiotherapy all fall outside of the government health coverage plans.

Fortunately, there are private health and dental insurance programs in place that can help bridge these gaps and provide for healthcare services. There are many insurance providers and the language of insurance is sometimes complicated. It can be hard to know if you’re comparing apples to apples when comparing insurance quotes. The best way to make sure you’re getting the right level of coverage for your family’s needs at the right price is to work with an insurance broker.

Whatever your reasons are for choosing this as your new home, welcome to Canada! We hope your arrival is a safe one and that your healthcare needs are taken care of swiftly and efficiently. With an insurance broker on your side, you’re already off to a great start!


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