Does Canada Have Free Health Care?

does canada have free health care

Canada is well-known for its breathtaking mountain, lake and wildlife vistas – an enticing prospect when considering moving or living here. But before daydreaming of Canada as your future home or relocation spot, it is essential that all practical details, including healthcare costs are addressed first. On this page we discuss how Canada’s healthcare system operates; who qualifies for free healthcare there and whether extra medical coverage will be necessary when moving there as either a citizen or migrant worker.

Do Canadians Have Free Healthcare? Most Canadians pay a portion of their earnings directly to the federal government as prepayment for public healthcare delivered through provincial and territorial health systems, similar to what many Americans pay toward social security benefits. They then enjoy guaranteed access to core hospital and physician services that are free at the point of use.

The Canada Health Act establishes national principles for public healthcare systems. Additionally, the federal government funds and provides specific services for various groups within society; including reserve residents; Inuit; serving members of Canadian Armed Forces and refugee claimants. Ten provinces and three territories are responsible for dispensing healthcare based on national standards; however this devolution of responsibility means care standards may differ according to region.

As a general rule, eligibility for free healthcare in Canada depends on one’s citizenship or residency status. Each of the ten provincial/territorial health insurance plans offers basic coverage for medically necessary hospital and physician services and most plans offer similar features; each plan may also offer extra services that vary – including ambulance coverage; children’s services (geriatric rehabilitation etc); prescription drug coverage as well as dental/ophthalmologic/podiatric coverage among others. In some instances plans do not extend coverage outside their borders either.

Though most Canadians enjoy free healthcare access, Canada still faces significant obstacles that are common across OECD nations. These include long wait times for elective healthcare services; unequal access for certain populations such as First Nations and rural communities; and rising pharmaceutical costs.

As such, two out of every three Canadians carry private health insurance as an extra measure for public coverage, spending an average of C$4,000 per household on healthcare costs.

If you are moving to Canada for work, make sure that you arrange private medical insurance before arriving. While most Canadian employers provide group health coverage, it’s not mandatory. Cigna offers personal medical insurance online that quickly lets you build a tailored plan designed specifically to your move – using Wise multi-currency accounts allows you to hold and manage 50+ currencies at one place with low fees when sending international payments and transfers.

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