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Health insurance

Having health insurance is great if you want to avoid paying any extra healthcare costs, as unexpected health care bills can be a nuisance.

A health insurance plan helps you extend your personal health coverage beyond the coverage you receive through your provincial healthcare program. When you solely rely on your provincial health coverage, you may encounter surprising medical bills for a number of uncovered medical needs. This is because all provincial and territorial health care programs offer residents basic access to medical coverage. This leaves out several health care services that you and your family may require.

Provincial health coverage

Provincial health care caters to your basic health care costs. Your provincial health coverage may not cover the following:

  • Prescribed medications
  • Routine dental care
  • Corrective vision care
  • Physical and psychological therapies
  • Emergency medical services when travelling abroad

When you get private health insurance, you can easily personalize your health care coverage and find the best option for you and your family. This allows you to be ready for any unexpected health care expenses and routine needs like vision care and dental care.

Health care coverage in provinces

Coverage for healthcare services vary from province to province. We've listed each provincial health care coverage information to help you learn more about your government health insurance plan (just click the province or territory you live in):

Private health insurance

You can really benefit from a private medical insurance plan if you:

  • are self-employed
  • work on a freelance or contract basis
  • have little or no group medical coverage through work
  • lose your group health benefits at retirement

Having private health insurance helps ensure that you can take care of your health when you lack financial stability. Your health matters the most and should never be a secondary priority.

Out of province healthcare

If you get sick while travelling within Canada, it is easy to receive immediate medical attention without having to foot the bill. All the provinces and territories, except Quebec, have signed an Interprovincial Billing Agreement under which the host province agrees to cover the cost of any medically necessary service provided and subsequently bill the home province for reimbursement.

You must also be aware that there are certain differences to your coverage when you travel outside of your home province. Understanding these differences can help you avoid having to pay unnecessary expenses. Please check your province’s travel medical coverage before you travel within Canada.

What is and isn’t covered out of province?

According to the Canada Health Act, medically necessary health care services are covered when travelling within Canada. If you fall ill or have an accident in another province, your hospital and physician services will most likely be covered through your own province.

Additional services, such as an ambulance, hospital transfer, or transportation back to your home province, will not be covered. If you have private health insurance, make sure you check the out-of-province coverage.

Since Quebec is not a part of the Interprovincial Billing Agreement, you will be charged upfront for any medical services you receive there. In most cases, you can submit a claim for reimbursement to your own provincial ministry of health when you get home. Please remember to keep all your medical receipts, as your provincial ministry will like to see proper documentation during your reimbursement claims.

Although Quebec does not participate in the interprovincial billing agreement, Quebec residents who get sick while visiting another province will be covered for medical services. However, hospitals can ask you to pay upfront for your expenses. It is your responsibility to submit your receipts to the Régie upon returning to Quebec, at which time the Régie will reimburse applicable services at Quebec rates.

What to carry when travelling within Canada

If you are travelling within Canada, make sure you are carrying the following items:

  • Your provincial health card
  • Travel/health insurance coverage proof (if you have any)
  • Prescriptions (if applicable)

Your health card is valid proof that you’re insured under a provincial plan. If you don’t have your health card, the doctor’s office/hospital may ask you to pay upfront for the services. Unless you’re using your passport as ID, there’s no need to carry a passport document with you. This rule includes domestic flights where there are other forms of ID you can use.

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