Health care insurance is a broad subject that reflects on your well being and it is important to identify different types of Canada health insurance to pick the ideal that complements your preferences.
Your health should not be considered an expense but rather an investment. Having the best health insurance will give you assurance and greater peace of mind, yet how do you make the right choice?
What is health insurance?
In Canada, health insurance is a form of insurance coverage that helps pay the cost of medical expenses incurred from illness or injury. It can also cover some everyday living expenses such as dental, vision and prescriptions. One may obtain health insurance Canada through their employer, buy it independently or qualify for government-provided coverage.
What is the difference between public and private health insurance ?
In Canada, health insurance is both public and private, with the possibility of benefiting from both options.
Public health insurance in Canada
Public health insurance, also referred to as public insurance or a social insurance system, is health coverage that is funded by taxes and distributed to individuals and families through the government. You will require a health insurance card to receive medical services and public health insurance Canada differs from each province and it is a mix of “universal”, “non-universal” and “optional”.
- In British Columbia, Health care in BC is either provincial health care or Enhanced Medical Services (a private insurance plan).
- Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is basically institutionalised into non-universal settings. Therefore private health insurance Ontario has special medical management programs.
- In Québec there is universal access to healthcare through the RAMQ system.
Private health insurance in Canada
Private health insurance is health coverage paid for by individuals either through their employer or out of pocket. Some common features of private health insurance plans include higher deductibles (the amount an individual pays out-of-pocket before the plan starts to pay), coinsurance (an individual’s required contribution when they visit the doctor), annual spending limits and covering only certain types of treatments.
Here are some of the main private health insurance companies in Canada:
- Sunlife Health Insurance
- Manulife Health Insurance
- Blue Cross Health Insurance
- Odyssey Health Services.
What can you use health insurance for in Canada?
In Canada health insurance covers common healthcare needs including visiting a doctor, receiving prescription medication, dental work and eye exams. Moreover, some private health insurance pertains to catastrophic coverage where the portion of premiums paid by the individual above a deductible. When medical expenses start to reach this limit, catastrophic coverage will then be activated.
Some plans also include an out-of-pocket maximum which sets a limit on how much an individual can pay for care before their plan starts to pay 100% of the cost.
The most often Canada health insurance covers costs for:
- Prescription medications
- Dental care
- Ambulance services
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Physician services, surgery/anaesthesia, x-ray and laboratory services
- A percentage of the cost of your sessions with health professionals outside the hospital
- Accessories and medical devices to buy in pharmacies
- Orthopedic shoes or podiatric orthotics
- Hearing aids
- Nursing care.
Why should I take a private health insurance policy?
If you have a private health insurance policy, then generally your insurer has to provide the same benefits as if you were paying directly for it. Generally speaking, they must pay for the same treatments or procedures such as hospitalization and usually offer the same level of coverage. However, in some cases, they will be able to charge premiums that are higher than the public system so you should compare your options to see which is more affordable for you. Key reasons to subscribe for private health insurance coverage include:
- You will get the treatment you need, when and where you need it.
- It allows you to save on unprecedented expenses.
- You will not have to worry about paying for health care costs on top of other expenses, such as auto insurance premiums or mortgage payments.
- You are covered for a wider range of services by a comprehensive coverage plan and depending on your needs it can be affordable and cost effective.
This is why having private health insurance is very important in Canada.
Do health insurance policies change according to the provinces?
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. Public and private health insurance policies are different from one jurisdiction to another, depending on the legislation in each province or territory and this includes insurers, providers and medicines.
Some may opt out of public coverage to use their resources. However, if you are not eligible for public coverage (e.g., do not meet the residency requirement, you just moved to Canada as a student), then many provinces will also provide private coverage as a form of supplemental insurance.
|Province||Public health system|
|British Columbia||Medical Services Plan (MSP)|
|Ontario||Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)|
|Québec||Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (health insurance board), also known as the “RAMQ.|
|Nova Scotia||Nova Scotia’s Medical Services Insurance (MSI)|
|Alberta||Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)|
As you see, the public health insurance system is very diverse in Canada, meaning health insurance needs may vary from one province to another.
How much does health insurance cost in Canada?
The cost of health insurance plans differs across Canada. The average cost of health insurance coverage can depend on :
- Where you live
- Your earnings
- Your age
- The type of health insurance plan you prefer.
Generally speaking, here below are some indicative prices of what can be the cost of health insurance across Canada :
|Health Insurance Plan||Indicative cost|
|Basic coverage||$ 15 – $ 30|
|Comprehensive coverage||$ 70 – $ 100|
|Premium coverage||$ 160 – $ 250|
|Extended coverage||$50 – $80|
As you can see in this table, the cost of health insurance in Canada plans depends a lot on the type of coverage selected. There also exists great differences between provinces regarding the health insurance cost.
How to get health insurance quotes in Canada?
There are several ways to get health insurance quotes in Canada. You can contact a private health insurance broker who will take you to the best policy for your needs in terms of health insurance Canada. This can come with an additional cost since you might have to pay a commission from the amount of the premium- typically around 10%. Because the broker represents a number of insurers and plans, it’s important to shop around and get quotes from several sources.
You can go through each company to find out the best Canada healthcare insurance plan but it will take up a lot of your time and effort.
The virtual world is a great resource where you can ask questions, compare policies and make a selection. You can use our comparator on top of the page to get transparent facts at your convenience. We allow you to compare quotes and pick the one that best suits your needs among the accurate data provided for different insurance companies in Canada
What is the best way to find a cheap health insurance plan ?
The first step in finding affordable yet best health insurance in Canada is to understand exactly what your coverage entails and how it works. You should know the kind of benefits offered and if there are any exclusions or limitations of their coverage.
When you purchase a private health insurance plan, you can be confident in your coverage but selecting a suitable plan can be an ordeal. You can use our online health insurance plans comparator and save time and effort while selecting the most ideal option. Comparing best quotes per province, detailed clarifications on the coverage plan and reliability in information is now at your fingertips.
Is it possible to combine health and dental insurance ?
Yes, and when you combine a health and dental insurance plan, the monthly premium will cover both your health and dental benefits. Sometimes there is a charge for each additional family member under the age of 18 and it can vary from plan to plan.
You should also make sure that the maximum age allowed for coverage on your family plan is no lower than what is permitted by law in your province or territory.
Discover our article on dental Insurance where we detail all the essential information.
Are health insurance premiums tax deductible in Canada?
In Canada, health insurance premiums can be deducted from your income to calculate your taxable income if you are on a low or no taxable income basis for tax purposes. Additionally, you may also be eligible to claim the premiums as a medical expense deduction, which is an itemized deduction that is available on your tax return.
To qualify for health insurance tax deduction, you need to meet certain criteria:
1. You must be working in Canada and not eligible for coverage through another source (such as provincial/territorial government programs).
2. You must have been offered health insurance by your employer.
3. The cost of the health insurance must be at least 10% of the amount you earn or $2,000 per calendar year (these amounts can go up depending on your employer).
4. Generally, if you are 65 years or older, you do not need to meet these requirements.
However, keep in mind that there is a lifetime cap of $500,000 on this deduction. Before you claim health insurance premiums as a deduction, make sure it will save you more money than carrying the premiums as an expense on your income taxes.
How to cancel my personal health insurance plan in Canada?
In Canada, cancelling your private health insurance plan is not difficult – in fact, all it takes to cancel your policy is by the written consent of the individual insured or the authorized person in charge of the coverage. Your insurer will usually send cancellation forms to you within 14 days of you requesting this.
Is it possible to purchase an international health insurance plan ?
One of the reasons why extended international health plans can cost more than standard plans is because they include some services that are not covered by basic plans. This includes services like maternity benefits, mental health services and other medical treatments not covered by universal medicare. Usually, international health insurance covers aspects such as:
(1) Basic hospital and physician fees, surgical fees, lab fees, diagnostic fees, X-ray fees, prescription drugs, and laboratory tests.
(2) Life-saving drugs such as oral steroids and insulin given at the time of need.
The annual cost of an international health insurance plan can range from as low as $500 and an average annual cost of $5000. International health insurance is an important consideration for any Canadian citizen who is living abroad or travelling for a short or medium period of time.
What is the best health insurance plan for students?
The best health insurance plan for students is one that includes coverage for education-related expenses. Some plans provide free or discounted tuition while others include coverage for books and supplies. If you are looking for international student health insurance, you have to clarify if you are eligible for public provincial healthcare plans. For instance International students in Ontario are not eligible for Ontario Health Insurance plans. Here are some of the health insurance companies offering international health insurance:
|Health Insurance Company||Student plan description|
|Manulife||Get accidental dental coverage of up to $2,500 and medical care coverage for up to $2,000,000 which includes:|
|Sun Life||No co-pay for any drug, lab or X-ray and the treatment bills are paid directly by Sun Life|
|Odyssey||The policy covers hospital expenses, including surgery and anaesthesia, ambulatory care|
Be sure to compare the costs of these benefits to your total cost of school before making a choice.