Our Guide to the Alberta Health Services

James James updated on 28 March 2023

Did you know that the Canadian public health care system began in 1967? The country’s universal public health system has been working ever since to provide health care free services to Canadians.

Citizens and residents benefit from these services, but each province and territory manages and administers its plans differently. Alberta’s public system is known shortly as AHCIP, or the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

This guide goes into detail about Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Learn more about eligibility, how to apply, what is covered and more.

What is Alberta Health Services?

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is an integrated health system that is responsible for delivering health services to Alberta residents, as well as to some residents in Saskatchewan, B.C. and the Northwest Territories. It provides a number of essential health services to Albertans, but many still choose to get private health coverage to supplement it.

What is AHCIP?

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, or AHCIP, is the publicly administered and funded health care system run by AHS.

It provides residents with access to medically-necessary hospital and health care services. It covers health care costs such as doctor-provided medical services, diagnostic services (x-rays, lab tests, etc.) and hospital accommodation.

What does the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan cover?

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) provides eligible Alberta residents with full coverage for some medically necessary physician services, dental and oral surgical health services.

Your physician will determine what insured services are considered medically necessary.

Services covered may include:

  • Physician visits
  • Psychiatrist visits
  • Diagnostic services including laboratory, radiological (x-rays)
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery services
  • Bariatric surgery for Albertans who are eligible under the Weight Wise program
  • Breast augmentation and mastectomy for transgender surgery
  • Hospital visits and stays

The following hospital services are covered:

  • Nursing services
  • Laboratory, x-ray and diagnostic procedures
  • Accommodations at a standard level and meals
  • Medications
  • Operating room, care room, radiotherapy, physiotherapy and anesthetic facilities
  • Routine surgical equipment and supplies
  • Inter-facility transfer in Alberta by ambulance

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides partial coverage for podiatry, optometry, and some specialized dental services only in Alberta. These services are not covered outside of Alberta.

These services have benefit limits or maximums per benefit year.

Service typeCoverage

  • Children 18 years old and under, and seniors 65+ years are eligible for one complete eye exam, one partial exam and one diagnostic procedure per benefit year
  • full coverage, if you are 19 to 65 years old, for an eye exam your optometrist deems is medically necessary as a result of trauma, a medical condition or an episode of illness

*Optometrists cannot charge you for services covered by AHCIP, but you are responsible for additional costs incurred at the time of treatment.
  • some specific dental, oral and maxillofacial surgical services
  • partial coverage for some podiatry services, to a maximum of $250 per benefit year
Optometrist, dentist and podiatrist coverage under AHCIP

When the charge for a dental, optometry, or dentistry service exceeds the benefit limit, you will be responsible for the difference in cost. These services can be expensive which can lead to unforeseen financial stress. It is strongly recommended you obtain a private health insurance plan to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

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What does the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan not cover?

There are many treatments that the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan does not cover:

  • Complementary or alternative medical treatments, such as a chiropractor, massage therapist, naturopath, nutritionist or social worker
  • Psychologist 
  • Cosmetic surgery (e.g. tummy tuck), unless medically required 
  • Prescription drugs other than those prescribed during a hospital stay
  • Eye examinations for adults aged 19-64, unless medically necessary
  • Eyeglasses, contacts or laser eye surgery
  • Medical appliances or mobility devices, such as wheelchair 
  • Hearing aids  
  • Dental treatments
  • Ambulance services unless transferred from one medical facility to another
  • Most contraception

Private health insurance can help you not only access better care when you need it while providing greater peace of mind.

Watch out!

Services not covered under AHCIP can be expensive and 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. Learn more about private health care insurance.

Does Alberta Health cover dental?

Unfortunately, it largely does not. Even worse, Alberta has some of the highest dental fees in Canada.

Alberta Health does not pay for routine dental care such as cleanings, fillings and wisdom teeth removal. Nor does it cover dentures.

Wondering how much dental implants cost in Alberta? Or what you could expect to pay for a dental cleaning? This information and much, much more is available in the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. The Alberta Dental Association and College produce annual guides for services from generalists and specialists.

While the listed fees are suggestions rather than required, the guide has been successful in bringing transparency to Albertans and helped lower prices. Always check with your service provider before getting treatment or surgery to confirm.

The abbreviated guide appears below:

Good to know

Still have questions? Our Alberta dental insurance guide has answers.

Does Alberta Health cover vision?

Alberta Health does not cover most routine vision care for adults. Private insurance may be necessary to pay for routine eye exams, glasses, contacts and laser eye surgery.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan covers some vision care. Covered services include eye exams for children and seniors and some specific medical conditions that are treated by optometrists.

Good to know

Low-income Albertans and seniors may be eligible for additional dental and vision assistance under the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs.

How do I get Alberta Health care?

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

The supporting documentation that you will need to provide in addition to your application are:

  • Alberta residency
  • identity
  • legal entitlement to be in Canada

There are several different documents you can submit to show Alberta residency and legal entitlement to be in Canada such as:

  • Proof of identity (e.g. Canadian passport, Permanent Resident Card, Alberta driver’s license)
  • Proof of legal right to be in Canada (e.g. Canadian passport, Permanent Resident Card, Canada entry document, Canadian citizenship card)
  • Proof of Alberta residency (e.g. Mortgage or rental agreement, utility or phone bill, home insurance policy, vehicle registration, or Alberta driver’s license)

You can submit your completed application and supporting documents either in person or by mail.

If you opt to submit your application in person, you can do so by visiting an authorized registry agent. There is no charge for this service.

Once you submit your application in person, the processing time will take approximately 5 days. Your card will be mailed to you from the AHCIP office.

If you opt to mail in your application, you will need to send the application and photocopies of your supporting documents to the AHCIP office:

Alberta Health

Attention: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan

PO Box 1360, Station Main

Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3

You will need to include photocopies of supporting documents with your application. Photocopies must include the front and back of the document, if applicable. AHCIP advises to not send original documents in the mail.

If you apply by mail, processing time can take up to 6 weeks. Your card will be mailed directly to you from the AHCIP office.

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

How to get an Alberta health card?

Once you have successfully applied and have been approved for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, the AHCIP will mail you your health card.

How do I renew my Alberta health care card?

Your Alberta health care card does not expire. However, if you need to make a change to your card due to a life event such as:

  • change in mailing address
  • change in name
  • change in marital or relationship status
  • have a new child or dependant
  • remove a dependant who no longer qualifies to be on your account
  • report a death

You can visit the Alberta health insurance plan online portal for instructions on how to update your card.

How do I get a replacement Alberta health care card?

If you have lost or damaged your personal health care card, you can call 1-800-232-7215 to order a replacement card.

How much does Alberta health care cost?

Currently, there are no premiums or payments to be registered with the AHCIP.

Before January 2009, Albertans were required to pay a monthly fee of $44 for singles and $88 for families for the Alberta Health Insurance Plan.

However, while some health expenses are covered by the government, others are not and those costs must be paid out-of-pocket. A private health insurance plan is highly recommended as it will protect you from health expenses such as prescription drugs, dental services, and eye exams that the government does not cover individuals.

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What is my Alberta health care number?

Your Alberta health care number is a nine-digit number unique to you and can be found on your health care card. This number is how doctors and hospitals will confirm your enrollment in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. It will also allow you access to your medical records.

If you need help finding this number, you can find it on the teal-coloured strip on your health care card.

Good to know

You can also call 780-427-1432 (Dial 310-0000 first for toll-free calling within Alberta) or visit their website for further assistance.

Why is my Alberta health care number invalid?

If your health care number comes up as invalid, it is likely your provider is getting an “invalid healthcare” rejection from Alberta Health. This means that you are being shown as not having valid AHCIP coverage for the claim’s date of service. Your provider will need to confirm you have out-of-province or federal coverage.

How do I get my medical records in Alberta?

You can access your Alberta health records online via the MyHealth Records platform as well as on the MyHealth Records app on your phone.

To do so, you will need to create a MyAlberta Digital ID. Once created, you will need to verify your identity using your Alberta-issued driver’s licence or identification card. After you have completed this step, you can immediately create your MyHealth Records account and access your records (for a 90-day grace period) while waiting for a mailed verification code to complete the final step in verifying your MyAlberta Digital ID.

Once you have completed and verified your MyAlberta Digital ID, you can go to MyHealth Records and log in with your confirmed MyAlberta Digital ID to create your MyHealth Records account. You will also need your Alberta Personal Health Number.

How do I contact AHCIP?

If you need to contact Alberta Health Services, you can call 1-800-232-7215. A representative will be able to help you Monday through Friday from 8:15 am to 4:30 pm.

Make sure you have your personal health number ready when you call.

For general inquiries or non-personal questions, you can contact Alberta Health Services at: [email protected].

How do I change my name on my Alberta health care card?

If you need to change your name on your Alberta Health Care card, you will need to complete the Name/Address form.

Once you have completed the form, you can take it to an authorized registry agent office or you can mail the form to:

Alberta Health

Attention: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan

PO Box 1360, Station Main

Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3

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I had a phone call visit with my dr., and got an invoice for it saying that my healthcare is invalid? Why would this be? I've had Alberta Health Care since I was born.

James James Our expert

Hi Scott,
If this looks like an error to you, you can directly contact the AHCIP services.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team

Jessie B.

Hi can you email me applications for Alberta Health Care Cards for my 4 children

James James Our expert

Hi Jessie,
You can find applications forms for AHCIP on the government of Alberta's website.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team

Andrew R.

I got blood work today and was told my Alberta health card number does not exist. I’ve been using this number for well over a decade. I was told I have to pay for my blood work… I’ve never had this happen before.

James James Our expert

Hi Andrew,
You should discuss this issue directly with the Alberta Health Services.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team