When arriving in Canada, one of the most important things a newcomer needs to do is acquire health insurance. In most provinces you will receive coverage as soon as you apply, but many immigrants do not realize that national health care is not always available on the first day they arrive. Provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, require that immigrants wait at least three months before they are eligible to receive health plan benefits. After arriving in Canada it is important to apply for your health insurance card. If you are immigrating to a province that has a three month waiting period, you should purchase private, short-term health-care insurance.
If you reside in a province that does not require a three month waiting period, each member of your family must have their own health card. You can obtain an application form from the provincial health ministry office, hospital, doctor’s office, or a pharmacy. To apply for a health card, you will need your passport, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) or birth certificate. Health care services will only be offered to people who have their own names on the health card that they provide. Immigrant organizations are available to help with filling with out application forms
If you are living in a province that requires a three month waiting period, you can purchase a private, short-term health-care insurance plan. Private health plans provide comprehensive coverage for a variety of health conditions and medical emergencies. There are plans that can be purchased before you arrive in Canada. If you purchase insurance from your originating country, read the policy carefully to make sure you are still covered once you arrive in Canada.
Canada’s national health care system does not cover dental care but there are private plans that will cover dental procedures. It is important to make sure your family members are also covered. Some insurance companies have stipulations for buying private health insurance that may include a standard deadline to apply for insurance after arriving in Canada. The cost of health care coverage depends on the insurance provider you choose, health history, the type of insurance package, and your age and your dependent’s ages. Some insurers may have specific conditions attached to particular insurance plans.
Most private health insurance plans include extended health care benefits such as prescription drugs, medical supplies, hearing aids, vision care, hospital rooms, and complementary health services such as chiropractic and registered massage therapy. They can also cover dental plans, disability income, critical illness coverage, travel insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits.
For more information about obtaining private health insurance and different health plans private health insurers provide, you can contact the Consumer Assistance Centre of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService (CLHIO). In Ontario, Settlement.org provides the Guide to Supplementary Health Insurance booklet that helps newcomers understand health insurance. The booklet is also helpful when newcomers are deciding which health plan will meet their needs. Settlement.org also provides a list of companies that provide private health insurance. Insurance brokers are an alternative to insurance companies. Because brokers represent several different health insurance companies and have access to different plans, they are often able to provide more choices and a better price.
Acquiring a health care plan is an essential part of settling in Canada. In case of an emergency, it is important to have the right health insurance plan that meets you and your family’s needs. With all of the new experiences waiting for you, having proper health care is one less issue that you and your family will have to worry about.