If you are like most Canadians, you might think of Medicare as a national program. But under our Constitution, the delivery of healthcare is primarily a provincial responsibility — and each province provides medical services to its own residents.
If you are moving permanently to another province, you are expected to enroll in your new province’s healthcare plan when you get there — you will not be considered a permanent resident when you first arrive. In many provinces there is a transition period. For example, you have to live in Ontario for roughly 3 months before you are considered a permanent resident of the province, and become eligible for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage.
If you move from Ontario, you will have OHIP coverage until the last day of the second full month after your move for care you receive in your new home province.
Can you see a doctor right after your move?
Changing your province of residence does not mean you will have to go months without having access to all healthcare. No matter what province you are in, as a Canadian you are entitled to basic services, which include:
- physician services (e.g., a visit to a walk-in clinic)
- services provided in a public hospital (e.g., emergency services, diagnostics, laboratory tests)
If you need to visit a hospital emergency department during your first few months in your new province, you won’t have to pay out of pocket during the transition period. The hospital will ask you to sign some paperwork, stating that you are now a resident, and use the documentation to seek reimbursement from your previous province of residence.
Under interprovincial cost-sharing agreements, your previous home province will cover your medical bills if it’s medically necessary for you to see a doctor or be admitted to hospital. So, during the transition waiting period, you can get the care you need.
At the end of the transition period, your original provincial healthcare coverage expires and you will come under the umbrella of your new province of residence’s health plan.
Provincial healthcare varies
Healthcare plans across provinces are not identical. What is and is not covered, the limits of that coverage, and the type of healthcare available varies from province to province.
Before moving, it’s important to make note of the differences in healthcare so that you can plan accordingly and avoid any unwelcome surprises when you get there.
Use health insurance to cover the gap
If you are concerned about how your healthcare coverage will be impacted, you have options. During your transition period, you can purchase health insurance to ensure you are covered. This will help offset any costs that you may have to pay out of pocket in your new home province.
For example, chiropractic care that was covered in your previous province may not be covered under your new provincial government’s healthcare plan. Or if you need an ambulance during the transition period, the ride may not be covered in your new province.
Worse yet, an unexpected illness or accident could result in many kinds of unplanned expenses:
- emergency dental care
- and much more!
Combined with moving expenses, those extra costs could put a strain on your financial resources.
And remember, most provinces exclude a number of services:
- cosmetic surgery
- ambulance services (including transport and paramedic)
- prescription drugs and other drugs given outside a hospital
- home-care services
- fees charged by private hospitals or facilities
- diagnostic or laboratory services outside of a public hospital
- long-term care or residential services, and
- assistive devices (e.g., prosthetics)
Most provinces recommend that you buy private health insurance before making your move to cover any uninsured services you may need.
We can show you moving options
If you are interested in learning more about your private health insurance options, get a quote from us and explore your coverage options. We are ready to help you with your plans.