Canada's healthcare system is very similar to the United States of America and they are often compared. The World Health Organisation's (WHO) Ranking of the World's Health Systems
ranks Canada at 30th place and USA at 37th place. However, quite surprisingly, neither rank in the WHO's top 25. Canada comes in place at 30 with the USA following behind at 37. It is normal for Canadians to have a family doctor (also known as a GP) they go to for basic healthcare, including blood tests, prescription medication, check-ups etc. If you require a specialist then your GP will also be able to refer you. The easiest way to find a GP for you and your family is either by contacting a community health centre in your area to see what surgeries are taking on new patients, or to ask someone you know in the area if they recommend a surgery. If you don't have a doctor but require medical attention then there are also numerous walk-in clinics that you can visit without an appointment.
Public Health Insurance
Public health insurance is available to permanent residents and Canadian citizens, which means that the majority of healthcare services are paid for through tax. Once you apply for this insurance, you'll be issued an individual health card, which you will need to take with you and show to your doctor when receiving public healthcare services. There can be a lengthy wait time of up to six months for your public health insurance application to be processed, so it is highly recommended that during this time you consider applying for private health insurance. Although Canada offers emergency medical services, there may be some restrictions on your entitlements to this depending on your immigration status. Therefore, if you find yourself in an emergency and you are unsure of your immigration status, it is safer to make your own travel arrangements to the nearest hospital. Overall, Canadians are very supportive of the public healthcare system and rate it highly. When applying for your health insurance, it's important to note that each province and territory in Canada has their own health insurance plans, so you should be sure to examine what your plan will cover.
Provinces and Territory Health Insurance Plans
Private Health Insurance
Although Canada's public healthcare system is rated well, you may wish to consider private health insurance for things that the government do not pay for in full. This includes:
- Dental care
- Ambulance services
- Prescription medication
Private health insurance may be offered to you by your employer as part of a benefits package. If your company doesn't offer this then you can purchase insurance packages from private insurance providers, who offer a variety of packages for different prices. You can find insurance providers across the internet and on comparison websites.