What is the Best Health Insurance in Alberta? (2022)

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Canadian citizens benefit from universal public health insurance funded by their payroll taxes. Canada’s universal care is of high quality, but the coverage that it offers is not comprehensive of all medical needs. Emergency and preventive care are largely covered, but 30% of healthcare expenditures are private or out-of-pocket.  

Did you know that in Alberta, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan does not guarantee access to full dental care, vision care or prescription medications? If you find yourself without coverage for these things, the out-of-pocket costs can be difficult to pay.

Want to learn more? This guide explains what is covered under the Alberta public system, along with private insurance options, reviews and the best insurance for you.

How does health insurance work in Alberta?

Alberta has a publicly administered and funded health care system that allows eligible residents to access medically-necessary hospital and health care services. This plan is called the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Also referred to as AHCIP, it covers health care costs such as medically-necessary physician’s visits, diagnostic services (like labs tests and x-rays) and hospital accommodation.

However, comprehensive cover and access to dental care, vision care and prescription medications are not covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. You will want supplemental insurance (a private health insurance plan) to cover these needs and avoid substantial out-of-pocket expenses.

How do I get health insurance in Alberta?

If you are in the market for health insurance and wondering what to do next, there are a few steps you will need to take to make sure you are getting the right coverage. 

The public health insurance provided through the Alberta Health Insurance Care Plan covers the basics, but it is important to consider the services that AHICP does not include. A private health insurance plan will fill in the gaps in coverage.

How do I get AHCIP?

All eligible Alberta residents must be registered for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) to receive insured hospital and physician services.

To apply for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, you will need to complete the AHCIP application form and submit it along with supporting documents. 

The required supporting documentation is:

  • Proof of Alberta residency
  • Proof of identity
  • Legal entitlement to be in Canada

Once you have completed the application and have your supporting documentation, you can submit your application either in person or by mail. 

If you opt to submit your application in person, the processing time is as quick as five days. Otherwise, application processing time can take up to six weeks. 

Your coverage will begin once your application is approved and you are registered. 

Good to know

See our AHCIP guide for more information on public health insurance in Alberta. 

How do I get private health insurance in Alberta?

For full comprehensive health coverage beyond what the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan covers, you will need to purchase private, supplemental health insurance. 

Ready to compare plans to find one that is right for you and your family? You can get started shopping with our free and anonymous health insurance comparison tool for a personalized quote in just seconds. 

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What is not covered by AHCIP?

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides full coverage for some services that a physician deems medically necessary, including physician’s visits, diagnostic services such as laboratory and radiological, hospital visits and stays, as well as some dental and oral surgical health services in a public hospital.  

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan does not cover:

  • Complementary or alternative medical treatments, including chiropracty, massage therapy, naturopathy,
  • Nutritionists
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists 
  • Cosmetic surgery (e.g. tummy tuck), unless medically required 
  • Prescription drugs outside of a hospital stay
  • Eye examinations for adults aged 19-64, unless medically necessary
  • Eyeglasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery
  • Medical appliances or mobility devices, such as wheelchair 
  • Hearing aids  
  • Dental treatments
  • Ambulance services except from one medical facility to another

Services not covered under AHCIP are often expensive. They can come as an unpleasant surprise when you are least able to deal with them. This is why we highly recommend getting a private insurance plan.

It can help you not only access better care when you need it but also offer peace of mind that you will be covered for large, unexpected expenses.

What does private health insurance cover in Alberta? 

Private health insurance covers the gaps that the Alberta Health Insurance Care Plan does not. The AHICP will cover minimal services which your physician needs to deem medically necessary. Unfortunately, these services are usually limited to doctor’s visits, laboratory work, and very minimal dental coverage. 

Private health insurance covers a much broader umbrella of services spanning health, dental and prescription drug coverage.

TreatmentAHCIPPrivate Health Insurance
Health Care
  • Medically necessary physician’s visits 
  • Hospital stays in public hospitals
  • Diagnostic services (labs, x-rays, etc.)
  • Preferred hospital accommodations (semi-private or private rooms)
  • Hospital cash
  • Hospital beds
  • Home nursing
  • Auxiliary care
Paramedical ServicesNot Covered
  • Chiropractic visits
  • Massage therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Traditional Chinese medicine (with some plans)
Prescription Drugs
  • Medications only dispensed in a hospital
  • Covered, limits will be dependent on plan/provider
Dental (waiting period may apply)
  • Some specific dental, oral and maxillofacial surgical services
  • Basic/preventative (check-ups, cleanings, fillings)
  • Dentures, periodontics, orthodontics
Vision 
  • Children 18 years old and under, and seniors 65+ years - one complete eye exam, one partial exam and one diagnostic procedure per benefit year 
  • 19 to 65-year-olds- eye exams an optometrist deems medically necessary resulting from trauma, a medical condition or an episode of illness
  • Covered, limits will be dependent on plan/provider
TravelNot Covered
  • Covered, limits will be dependent on plan/provider
Alberta healthcare coverage AHCIP vs private health insurance

As you can see, private health insurance adds additional services coverage and more generous financial assistance on hospital stays with nursing services and semi or fully private rooms.

Paramedical services are also generally covered:

  • Chiropractic visits
  • Massage therapists
  • Physiotherapists 
  • Psychologists

Some providers and plans also cover traditional Chinese medicine.

Vision, dental and prescription drug coverage are also available through a private health insurance plan.

Who is not covered by AHCIP?

While the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan is available to many individuals, they are some exceptions to who can get coverage. 

Non-eligible residents include:

  • refugee claimants
  • refused or failed refugee claimants
  • people with expired immigration documents

If you find yourself in one of those categories, it is recommended you obtain a private health insurance policy as you will be responsible for paying for your own medical expenses. 

A person, such as a student, who does not intend to reside in Alberta for a minimum of 12 consecutive months may not be eligible for AHCIP. They should purchase a personal health insurance plan to avoid unforeseen medical expenses. 

If you are travelling to Canada, you should purchase travel insurance from a private insurance company before arriving in the country. See our guide to travel insurance for more information

Watch out!

Not all Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) permits qualify the permit holder for health care insurance coverage in Alberta. Those who are not eligible people should purchase private health insurance.

How much does health insurance cost in Alberta?

Our experts were quoted $97.67 per month from Blue Cross for a 32-year-old, non-smoking female with no pre-existing conditions and comprehensive hospital, dental and prescription drug coverage.

For full comprehensive health coverage beyond what the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan covers, the cost depends on several factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Lifestyle including smoker status
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Specific coverages (i.e dental, prescription drug cover)
  • Provider

You may be asking yourself what benefits you would be eligible for under a similar comprehensive plan and price. Here is an example of what to expect:

TreatmentLevel B Plan
Health Care
  • 12 Individual Assistant Program (IAP) sessions
  • $75 per psychologist visit
  • $450 maximum
  • $35 per chiropractic visit
  • $50 per massage visit
  • $50 per physiologist visits

*(combined maximum $350 for chiropractic, massage, physiologist visits)
Prescription Drugs
  • $500 maximum
Dental (various waiting periods apply)
  • 75% reimbursement for basic/preventative (check-ups, cleanings, fillings)
  • 50% reimbursement for dentures, periodontics
Vision 
  • $200, including eye exams every 2 years
Hospital Stays (semi-private or private)
  • Up to $2,000
Example of coverage on a private health care plan in Alberta

Is it possible to combine health and dental insurance in Alberta?

You can combine health and dental insurance in Alberta. This process is called Coordination of Benefits (COB). It is standard practice for insurers across Canada.

Good to know

If you are covered by another extended health and/or dental plan, you can combine plans to maximize your overall coverage and reduce or even eliminate your out-of-pocket costs.

Which are the best individual health insurance plans in Alberta?

In Canada, and specifically Alberta, there are many private individual health insurance plans available. It may seem like the tough part is navigating which provider and plan are best for your personal circumstance. We recommend comparing Alberta health insurance plans to make sure you are getting the best coverage available. 

To quickly and anonymously compare health insurance plans in Alberta try HelloSafe's comparison tool:

Compare coverage and rates of
Canada's best health insurance plans

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How do I cancel my personal health insurance plan in Alberta?

If you need to cancel your health insurance plan in Alberta, contact your specific provider directly. Each provider will have different requirements in regard to what steps to take to cancel your policy.

If you are leaving Alberta permanently and need to cancel your Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, you can do so by contacting the AHCIP office:

  • By phone at 1-800-232-7215, Monday through Friday from 8:15 am to 4:30 pm
  • By fax to 780-422-0102
  • By mail:

Alberta Health

Attention: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan

PO Box 1360, Station Main

Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3l 

Make sure to include your full name, personal health care number and forwarding address.

You can also cancel your AHCIP account in person at an authorized registry agents office.

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2 comments
Corey
on 2022-02-21

Looking for health and dental insurance for two children who are no longer eligible under parents coverage. What are my options

James rodriguez James rodriguez
on 2022-02-24

Hi Corey,
You can find a list of some of your options in the "Which are the best individual health insurance plans in Alberta?" section of this article.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe Team