Can Foreigners Access Free Healthcare in Canada? – In recent times, Canada has being the top destination for a lot of foreigners and the number is not slowing down as a lot of people see Canada as a land of great opportunities whether you are working or studying in Canada. Canada offers you the best quality of life and standard of living and so it is no surprise that it is seeing an influx of foreigners every year.
Canada is one of the countries across the world that offers free healthcare facilities to its citizens and permanent residents but the question here is does this free healthcare services extend to foreigners (workers or students) in the country?
Well, as a foreigner in Canada, you are entitled to a lot of benefits attached to living in Canada and free healthcare services are part of these benefits.
For you to access these free healthcare services, you will have to apply for public health insurance whether you are a citizen, permanent resident or temporary resident of Canada. So even as a foreigner in Canada, you are eligible for free healthcare services in Canada but it depends on your status in the country.
We are going to be looking at the people that are eligible to these free healthcare services in Canada.
Who’s covered by Canada’s Universal Healthcare Plan?
- Permanent residents
- Foreign nationals in the process of obtaining permanent residency in Canada
- International students with study permits
- Foreign workers with work permits
- Temporary residents although in special cases
- Refugees and protected persons
How Does The Healthcare System In Canada Work?
We all know that healthcare services are funded by the government in many countries of the world and in Canada, it is no exception. These services are funded by the Canadian government through the taxes collected from the citizens, permanent residence and any other eligible tax payer in the country. So as a taxpayer in the country, you are entitled to free healthcare services as the government has covered the cost for this.
The Canadian government believes that everyone is entitled to good healthcare services and medical treatments regardless and that is why a large portion of the revenue generated from taxes are plunged into medical care for its residents and citizens.
Insured persons are eligible to the healthcare services offered within a given province in which they reside provided that you are legally residing in or have lived in Canada for at least three months in a year not including tourists and visitors. So as a citizen, permanent resident, foreign worker or international student, you can apply for public health insurance from the province you reside in.
The healthcare services in Canada differ from province to province meaning that each province in Canada has its own healthcare plan and the people that are eligible for the program. Some provinces exclude international students from their healthcare coverage while some others include them.
If you are a non-citizen or not a permanent resident, it will take about 3-6months to qualify for the health coverage and at this period, you should be working or studying in order to increase your chances of qualifying for the coverage and other benefits too.
During the period you are waiting for your public healthcare coverage to be approved, you can apply for private health insurance although it will not be like the public healthcare coverage as you would be required to pay for this service.
You could also try securing the global health insurance policy to allow you get medical attention when you are sick or sustain an injury while visiting Canada. Having this health insurance means that you won’t have to pay a huge sum of money for healthcare services.
What Healthcare Services Are Covered In Canada?
It is important that you know the healthcare services that are covered and the ones that are not covered in Canada although this depends on the province you are living in as healthcare insurance plan varies from one province to another and also the medical services a healthcare insurance plan can cover depends on the province. Though we will look at some universal healthcare coverage in Canada, they are:
- Doctor visits
- COVID-19 treatment
- Medical tests
- Physiotherapy for the elderly
- Medical procedures and surgeries
- Maternity care
- Hospitalization and care
- Emergency room care
- Ambulance fees
- Psychiatric treatments
- Bariatric surgery for extremely obese patients
- Specific dental, oral, and maxillofacial surgical services
- Eye examinations and specific eye surgical services, ie removal of cataracts
- Midwife services
Can You Receive Healthcare Outside Your Province?
Living or residing in a province means that you are eligible to receive healthcare services in that province but would you get healthcare services when you are outside the province? Well, you can especially when it is an emergency situation. There is a limit to the treatment you can get outside the province you reside in but you can receive treatment outside your province.
How can you Apply for Public Healthcare in Canada?
For you to be able to access free public healthcare services in Canada, you must obtain a health insurance card and this can be immediately after you arrive Canada or after you must have stayed at least 132-135days in a province in Canada. You can obtain this card from any public hospital.
Let’s look at the steps you will need to take…
- Make enquiry to know if the province allows you to apply and obtain a healthcare cover immediately you arrive or you would be required to wait for some months to be eligible.
- Locate a healthcare service center in the province you reside and book an appointment
- Get a healthcare coverage form from the center and fill it correctly
- Have the necessary documentation required for the process and these includes:
- Proof that you are a citizen of Canada, permanent resident or a temporary citizen
- Proof of identification
- Proof to show that you have stayed in that province for the required number of days and that you are a full-time resident of that province. It could be driver’s license, letter from your employer or tax assessment.