Temporarily Moving to Canada? You Need Health Insurance

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It’s tough to single out Canada’s best qualities. The diverse cultures, friendly people, versatile weather…those are all bonuses, but what is it about Canada that draws people in? Many have said that it’s because Canada is a free country, with great food (poutine, anyone?), beautiful scenery, and home to so many great people.

Canada is a popular place for non-Canadian citizens to enroll in post-secondary education. Our universities welcome people from around the globe who want to learn in the best schools. We happen to have those institutions across the country, from UBC to Dalhousie University.

There are also many who come to Canada for work opportunities or internships, to vacation, or to visit relatives who live here.

If you are visiting Canada for an extended period of time, no matter the reason, one thing is for sure: you will need health insurance.

Why Won’t the Provincial Plan Cover Me?

Canada is rather famous for its free basic healthcare. The provinces and territories all have health insurance plans that cover a wide range of services. Many people mistakenly think that if they move to Canada, even for just a few months, that they will have access to the same entitlements as Canadian citizens, but that’s unfortunately not true.

Moving to Canada does not automatically result in coverage. Canada’s Medicare plan applies to permanent Canadian citizens and immigrants who have earned their citizenship. Our Medicare doesn’t cover those who aren’t Canadian citizens, and it won’t help if you’re a temporary resident, either.

Why, you ask? The answer is that our healthcare is paid for by our taxes. If you haven’t been paying tax in Canada, you aren’t eligible.

Even once you become a citizen, there is a waiting period of (typically) three months to get provincial health insurance. That’s three months with no healthcare coverage, which needs to be addressed.

So what should you do? If you are a temporary visitor, student, or other recent arrival from another country and you have an accident, illness or injury here in Canada, a hospital visit could cost thousands of dollars. It’s hard enough being miles from your home without any kind of financial safety net, the last thing you need is financial ruin.

The Best Solution

Thankfully, private health insurance exists for these types of scenarios. As a temporary resident of Canada, you can purchase a private plan that will keep you covered for the duration of your stay. Additionally, if you are a resident awaiting Canadian citizenship, you can use a plan to cover you until you are granted citizenship and subsequently become eligible under the provincial plan.

What to Watch For

One thing to keep in mind when purchasing a policy is that while it may cover many of the same services and items as the provinces, there are still some things that may not be covered. Some plans may exclude certain treatments—for instance, most exclude pregnancy-related services—so you should definitely research your options carefully before choosing.

Generally, some plans only cover emergency services, so any routine treatment or checkups would not be included. You would have coverage for hospital and physician fees in the event of an emergency, however.


Another thing to watch for is that some plans will not cover those whose work involves doing sports. If you are coming to Canada as a paid athlete, be sure to discuss this with a broker, such as our knowledgeable staff, to avoid any complications or surprises. Pre-existing conditions may also be excluded, but it depends on the plan.

A temporary health insurance plan can keep you protected while you’re away from home and it can ensure that you won’t be burdened with high healthcare costs. Relocating to another country, even temporarily, can be quite enough to handle. You certainly don’t need to go broke on top of everything else.

Your Options

There are different plans to choose from and the prices vary depending on your age, if you have a pre-existing condition, the amount of time for which you need to be covered, and how much coverage you want. Call one of our representatives to talk about the cost; we’re sure to have a policy that matches your needs and budget, especially considering how expensive the alternative can be.

Nobody plans to have a medical emergency, but if you have insurance you won’t have to worry about getting care if something does happen. Without a plan, you could very well find yourself stranded here in the Great White North. We definitely don’t want that to happen, so give us a call today, and let’s talk.


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