Health Insurance Options for New Canadians

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Canada's health care system is a big draw for newcomers to the country. Once settled, permanent residents can have access to a single-payer health system that is funded by their province or territory of residence. This means that fears about how to pay for medical treatment in the event of accident or illness are a thing of the past. However, these benefits are only open to citizens and those who have completed the lengthy process to become permanent residents.

In the interim, newcomers to Canada face the same health care coverage challenges as those who are coming to the country temporarily. If you are planning to move to Canada permanently, until your residency application is processed, private health insurance is a must. This article shares some of the options that may be available to you as a new resident of Canada.

Visitors to Canada

Visitors to Canada and those new to the country and not yet eligible for provincial health insurance may be surprised to learn that Canada’s health care system can be very expensive for people without coverage. Fortunately, there are insurance options available to cover extended visits and the time between arrival and eligibility for government coverage.

Whether you are here for a few days, a few months, or you are planning to stay forever and you are waiting to complete the rites of passage to become a permanent resident, private health insurance can help make the waiting period less stressful. The peace of mind that can come from knowing you are covered in the event of an accident or illness is impossible to measure. In a time of crisis, people in need of medical attention are never sorry they had the appropriate emergency travel insurance to pay for their care.

Federal Programs

For some newcomers to Canada, such as refugee claimants and other protected persons whose applications have already been accepted, a federal program exists to bridge the gap until they are qualified for provincial coverage.

Called the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), this has very limited eligibility and the coverage for those who do qualify is restricted to the services of a doctor or nurse and some diagnostic tests. If you think you may qualify for the IFHP, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to learn more.

The decision to move to a new country is hard enough without worrying about how to pay for the treatment of a serious illness or injury. To avoid going without coverage while waiting to be eligible for government insurance, it is best to make arrangements for health insurance before you enter the country. For the best rates and a thorough explanation of all of the coverage options you may be eligible for, talk to an insurance broker. You can get the facts on covering the individual needs of each person applying for health insurance until you are eligible for the plan in your new province of residence.


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