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Canada Health Insurance


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The second-largest country in the world, peace-loving Canada sits in North America, bordered by the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. The vibrant economy is supported by an abundance of natural resources, including copper, gold, iron ore, diamonds, silver, petroleum and hydropower, to name a few. Tourism is also an important source of revenue and the country attracts millions of visitors every year, which the Canadian government estimates exceeds the entire country’s population, which currently sits at 34.3 million inhabitants (CIA, 2012). The majority of those residents, approximately 90 percent, are concentrated within 160 kilometers of the US border. Canada’s rich natural beauty is showcased in pristine national parks and across its impressive mountain ranges and vast wilderness. Canada is proud of its accepting and multicultural society and welcomes visitors to enjoy the great outdoors, its scenic wonders, visit heritage sites and indulge in a variety of culinary treats and cultural activities. French and English are official and predominant languages in Canada although the latter is more widely used. Several other languages are also spoken, including Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.

Canada Health Care and Insurance

National healthcare standards are set by the Canadian government, which also provides financial support to the three territorial and ten provincial governments tasked with managing and delivering health and other social services within their particular jurisdictions. The bulk of health system financing is derived through federal, provincial and territorial level taxes, with a small portion from social insurance funds, out-of-pocket payments and private health insurance payments.

Universal coverage for accessing medically-necessary doctor, hospital and diagnostic services is provided through Canada’s health insurance system, known in the country as ‘Medicare’. Primary, secondary and tertiary care is available to legal residents under the scheme, with the first point of entry into the health system predominantly through family doctors and general practitioners. The country’s hospitals are administered by community boards-of-trustees and non-profit institutions as well as voluntary organizations or municipalities. While subject to operating budgets which are determined by the respective provincial and territorial governments, these organisations are relatively autonomous in their control of spending and use of resources. Approximately 65 percent of Canadian’s obtain additional private medical insurance according to government statistics, in order to offset expenses not provided for under Medicare. Supplementary services such as prescription medicines, home care services, corrective lenses and dental care are largely financed privately unless supplementary insurance is purchased.

Private clinics also operate within the health sector, however under federal law it is illegal for such practices to provide primary healthcare services which are already covered by the public Medicare system. Many private facilities however still do, in addition to specialized services. In comparison to public providers, private medical facilities have reduced wait times for both general practitioner and specialist services although treatment is expensive within the sector, restricting access only to those with additional Canada health insurance. New residents can be exposed financially in Canada, as they will typically experience lengthy waiting periods before coverage is granted under the Medicare scheme, another reason to arrange private cover.

Often quoted as a measure of the quality of life in a country, Canada’s estimated life expectancy is one of the highest in the developed world, currently sitting at 78 years for men and 84 years for women (CIA, 2012), comparatively higher than countries such as France, Spain and the United Kingdom, which all provide a similar standard of healthcare. Another indicator of health conditions within a country is the infant mortality rate, which again, Canada boasts one of the better rates in the world at 4.85 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Despite these statistics highlighting a well-developed and efficient health system, a number of challenges persist. Waiting times in emergency rooms can be significant and shortages of medical personnel has become a systemic problem, resulting in delays to see specialists, with such appointments only by referral and reportedly taking several months for patients to obtain.

Although the standard of care in Canada is extremely high and Medicare provides for a wide range of services, it can be difficult for temporary visitors to access if they do not have coverage under the government healthcare scheme. International medical insurance is recommended even for brief visits to Canada, as visitors are ineligible to receive public healthcare. Dual-nationals may also have difficulty accessing public health sector services as many doctors refuse to take new patients. Canada does not have reciprocal agreements in place with other developed nations. This group of nationals may also be subject to residential requirements set down by provincial authorities, which could limit some services to dual-passport holders.

Canada travel   Canada's medical insurance industry is a fast paced ever evolving market however our staff are experts and at your disposal.

Expatriates and Travelers in Canada

Canada Travel Insurance Concerns

Several natural hazards present a risk in Canada such as forest fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and winter avalanches. Snowboarding, skiing or using snow-mobiles on closed trails is not recommended as the risk of avalanches in mountainous areas is high. Areas in Alberta especially pose this risk and well as British Columbia, which is a seismically active region. The wind-chill factor can present a significant risk as it can result in dangerously cold open-air conditions, well below thermometer readings. Tornadoes can occur between the months of April and September, and hurricanes from June to November. Information on approaching weather fronts should be acquired and any instructions issued by authorities strictly followed. Checking media reports and obtaining local advice before visiting forested areas is also recommended due to the risk of forest fires, and is especially important if setting out on a hiking trip to an area known to be inhabited by bears.

Road users are also subject to a number of safety risks due to tailgating, the running of red lights and hurried lane-changes by locals, with safety issues compounded by emergency vehicles frequently using oncoming traffic lanes in order to avoid congestion. Numerous fatal accidents have occurred on the Detroit to Montreal highway, which is one of the busiest in North America, resulting from dangerous maneuvers by heavy vehicles, excessive speed and severe weather changes. Heavy snowfalls and icy conditions can increase the risks to road users, as wintery conditions make driving particularly difficult. Because traffic laws are established by each province, local variances may exist between provinces. Theft of vehicles, including of motor-homes and other recreational vehicles occurs even in seemingly secure areas. Patrolled parking lots and unattended vehicles are regularly targeted by opportunistic thieves. These incidents are largely known to occur in the cities of Vancouver and Montreal. In the event of an accident, as the cost of medical attention in Canada is high and non-residents are unable to access public healthcare, international medical insurance should be arranged, to ensure such costs are not financially burdensome. Emergency services, Fire, Ambulance and Police can be reached by dialing 911.

Canada Expat Health Insurance

An international Medical Insurance policy is highly recommended to offset the costs associated with health care in Canada, which is of an extremely high standard, but can be difficult to access by dual-nationals and temporary visitors. When seeking medical attention in Canada, these groups should be prepared to pay treatment expenses at the time the service is provided. Globally transferrable policies are available which provide insurance coverage wherever individuals may travel. A range of benefits are delivered including emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, hospital and doctors’ fees and costs associated with maternity services. To ensure the cost of medical care in Canada does not result in financial burden, make contact with an International Medical Insurance consultant for a free quotation.