Canadian citizens benefit from universal public health insurance funded by their payroll taxes. While Canada’s universal care guarantees access to basic coverage, the comprehensive coverage for non-essential services can be lacking. Emergency and preventive care are largely covered, but 30% of healthcare expenditures are private or out-of-pocket.
Did you know that in Quebec, the Quebec Health Insurance Plan or RAMQ, does not guarantee access to dental care, vision, paramedical services or full coverage for prescription medications? If you find yourself without coverage for these services, paying for them out-of-pocket is not always easy.
Want to learn more? This guide explains what is covered under Quebec's public system, along with private insurance options, frequently asked questions and the best insurance for you.
How does health insurance work in Quebec?
If you are a resident of Quebec, you are required by law to have either public or private health insurance in order to receive services including prescription medication coverage.
Private health insurance refers to any form of insurance coverage purchased by a person or provided by employer from a private insurance company rather than or in addition to coverage funded by Quebec's provincial government.
Public health insurance is managed by la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec or RAMQ, for short. RAMQ’s public health plan is also known as the Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan.
The RAMQ provides coverage to Quebec residents who do not have access to a private health insurance plan. This includes people who are:
- Not eligible for a private plan (for example, self-employed workers)
- Age 65 or over not enrolled in a private plan
- Recipients of financial assistance and holders of a claim slip (carnet de réclamation)
- Children of people covered by the public plan
How do I enrol in the Quebec Health Insurance Plan?
As soon as you arrive in Quebec, you are required to register for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan.
To register for health insurance, you will need to complete a paper form application. You can obtain it by calling the RAMQ or by going to one of its offices with the necessary documents.
Registration cannot be done online. It is important that you contact RAMQ within 15 days of your arrival in Québec. This will avoid running into any delays in your health insurance coverage.
A three-month waiting period applies to all new applicants. A private health insurance plan will protect you during the waiting period.
Contact RAMQ within 15 days of moving to Quebec. Registration must be done in person or by phone. Online registration is not available.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan?
Applying for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan? People eligible for the public plan are:
- People without access to a private plan
- Children under age 18 living in Quebec with parents do not have access to a private plan
- Children under age 18 temporarily living in Quebec for more than 6 months
- People age 65 and over who have not joined a private plan
- Recipients of last-resort financial assistance and certain other holders of claim slips (carnet de réclamation)
What does RAMQ’s Quebec Health Insurance Plan cover?
The Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) manages the Quebec Health Insurance Plan for all Quebec residents. RAMQ covers basic medical costs; however, many comprehensive services are not covered.
|Prescription drugs||You pay a deductible and coinsurance amount. Once you reach the maximum monthly contribution all remaining expenses that month are covered by RAMQ.|
|Ambulance||Covered for in-province land and air ambulance when medically necessary if you are 65 years or older, injured in a road or work accident or transported between two clinics.|
|Dental Benefits||Covered for some in-hospital dental surgeries depending on your age. Children 10 and younger are also covered for routine services and one examination per year.|
|Vision Care||Covered for eye exams if you are under 18 years old or 65 years and older.|
|Services in Public Hospitals||Covered|
|Services in Private Hospitals||Not covered|
|Paramedical Services||Not covered|
|Medical Supplies||Some coverage is available|
|Accidental Death and Dismemberment||Not covered|
|Out of Country||Partially covered|
What does RAMQ not cover?
A serious medical condition or injury can lead to substantial bills. Did you know that basic conditions and services are covered by RAMQ, but not everything else? Services and treatments that are not covered by RAMQ include:
- Physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractics, osteopathy, etc.
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Cosmetic procedures
- Sessions with psychologists
- Laboratory and diagnostic services such as blood work, MRI and CT scans (except those performed in hospitals)
- Bandages, splints and other medical supplies.
- Treatment of varicose veins by injection in a private medical office
If you find yourself in need of treatments not covered under RAMQ and you do not have a private health insurance plan, you will be responsible for paying your medical expenses out of pocket. It is highly recommended to obtain private health coverage to avoid finding yourself in that situation.
Here are example of what non-covered services could cost in Quebec you:
|Treatment for depression with a psychologist||$1,100|
|3 days in a private room at the hospital||$306|
Why could I also need an individual health insurance plans in Quebec?
Where RAMQ provides basic coverage, private insurance helps reimburse other services. With a private health insurance plan, you could get coverage for:
- dental care
- vision care
- psychologist sessions
- alternative medicine
- plastic surgery
- bandages, splints or other medical equipment etc.
Getting a private health insurance plan could eliminate you having to pay for surprise medical expenses when you are least able to deal with them. Compare Quebec's top private health insurance plans now.
Who are private health insurance plans designed for?
Private health insurance plans are designed with all residents of Quebec in mind. However, they are particularly important for people who are not able to get coverage through RAMQ. Non-eligible people include:
- Temporary Quebec residents over 18
- People accommodated in a public or private facility under agreement operating a residential and long-term care centre
- Beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement or the Northeastern Quebec Agreement
- Indians registered with Indigenous Services Canada and Inuit recognized by this ministry
A private health insurance plan is also right for you if you want more comprehensive coverage. It will provide you with protection against having to pay high medical costs out-of-pocket.
Is it possible to combine health and dental insurance in Quebec?
Keep in mind that RAMQ does not cover dental benefits. If you are wanting to make sure you are covered for preventative (cleanings, x-rays) or even comprehensive (root canals), you will need to purchase private dental insurance. Many health insurance plans offer a dental coverage add on.
Want to learn more about dental insurance? See our guide to dental insurance.
How much does the Quebec Health Insurance Plan cost?
Rates for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan update every year on July 1st. Some people are eligible for free coverage. Pharmacists are notified of rate changes and the eligibility requirements for free coverage.
The current rates for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022:
- An annual premium is paid through your income tax return for $0 to $710 per person according to net family income
- A monthly deductible of $22.25 is in effect on your first monthly purchase at a pharmacy.
- 35% co-insurance: You owe a percentage of the cost of covered drugs that you pay once the deductible has been paid
Maximum amount that you could pay for covered drugs:
- $96.74 per month
- $1,161 per year
Exceptionally, people over 65 who receive less than 94% of the max Guaranteed Income Supplement are capped at contributions of $55.08 per month of $661 per year.
Some recipients are entitles to coverage free of charge. These include people:
- Under 18 not covered under a private plan
- Between 18 to 25:
- Attending an educational institution on a full-time basis
- Without a spouse
- Living with their parents
- Without access to a private plan
How much does private health insurance cost in Quebec?
You can expect to pay $131.82 per month with Manulife if you are a 35- year old, non-smoking female. That premium will provide you peace of mind with comprehensive coverage including prescription drugs, dental, vision, and a travel insurance benefit.
As with any insurance plan, the premium will vary depending on:
- Smoker status
- Pre-existing conditions
To see what coverage best fits you, compare rates for health insurance now.
Are health insurance premiums tax-deductible in Quebec, Canada?
You can deduct medical expenses including health insurance premiums that you pay for yourself, your spouse, or your dependants. The expenses must have been paid during the 12 months ending in the tax year for which you are filing the return and have been paid to a licensed healthcare professional for medical or dental services.
The amount of expenses have to be above 3% of your net income. You will need to claim them on both your federal and Quebec return.
We always recommend consulting a tax advisor when it comes to tax-related questions.
How to get a Quebec health card?
In order to obtain a Quebec Health Card, you first need to complete the application process. The documents required to submit your application will be dependent on whether you are settling in Quebec, working temporarily, or will be studying in Quebec. To determine what category you fall under and what documents are needed, see here.
After you have gathered your necessary documents, you will need to schedule an appointment online so that an RAMQ agent can call you and mail you a personalized form.
Once you have been deemed eligible for RAMQ, you will receive your card in approximately 30 days.
You must present a valid Health Insurance Card to be entitled to the services covered under the Quebec Health Insurance Plan. After you have registered, you will need to renew your card periodically.
If you have any questions about the status of your application or health card, you may contact RAMQ by phone toll-free at 1-800-561-9749.
How do I renew my Quebec health card?
You are required to renew your Health Insurance Card before it expires. Otherwise, you will have to pay for any services covered under RAMQ that you receive and then apply for a reimbursement once your card has been renewed.
You should receive a form titled Renewal Notice three months before your card expires.
In order to renew a card that has been expired for more than six months, you will have to pay a fee of $25 plus the cost for having your photo taken.
If you lost your health card, did not receive the renewal form or need to make a change of address, you must order a Renewal Notice form which will be mailed to you within 14 days.
What is Quebec’s health booklet?
The Quebec Health Booklet, or le Carnet santé Québec, is an online portal that allows you to have access to your medical records as well as utilize services such as making an appointment with a provider.
Some other services that can be found within the Health Booklet are:
- Access to your medication lists
- Lab tests, imaging results as well as access to a Covid-19 test results
- Medical treatment you have received that are paid on a fee-for-service basis
- See the list of health workers you have consulted with
- Schedule, cancel, or see your appointment history
- Register with the Québec Family Doctor Finder (GAMF) and change your information if necessary
To be eligible for the Quebec Health Booklet, you must have a health insurance card and be 14 years old or older. Health information of children under 14 years of age is included in their parents’ record.
How do I contact RAMQ?
If you need to contact RAMQ, you can do so several ways.
- Quebec area: 418 646-4636
- Montreal area: 514 864-3411
- Throughout Quebec: 1 800 561-9749
- Outside Quebec: 514 864-3411
Office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. They are open on Wednesdays from 10am to 4:30pm and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you need to renew or replace a Quebec health card, you can visit a RAMQ service point in person.
By mail to:
Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec
C. P. 6600, succ. Terminus
Québec (Québec) G1K 7T3
What health insurance plan is best for international students in Quebec?
International students from some countries are eligible for RAMQ if they are a full time student and from a country that has a social security agreement with Quebec. These include:
All students studying in Canada are required to have health insurance. Some schools may offer an insurance plan or allow you to opt to take out private insurance from the university.
Not eligible for coverage though RAMQ? Get quotes on private health insurance.