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Canada’s healthcare system for Residents

admin | 16.09.2015

Canada's healthcare system

If you are planning to immigrate to Canada and apply for permanent residency, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration. Beside education, retirement plans or standards of living, a major factor is the benefit of Canada’s Healthcare System for residents. Knowing that your new country will make your transition and stay carefree when it comes to health and care is obviously a big plus. That is why today we are going to present in detail the Canadian healthcare system, based on Canada Health Act.

Canada’s healthcare system is dynamic–reforms have been made over the past four decades and will continue in response to changes within medicine and throughout society. The basics, however, remain the same–universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay.

The basic values of fairness and equity that are demonstrated by the willingness of Canadians to share resources and responsibility are displayed in Canada’s health care system, and have been reflected in the modifications and major reforms made to the system since its inception. The system has been and continues to be modified as the country’s population and circumstances change, and as the nature of health care itself evolves.

Under the health care system, individual citizens are provided preventative care and medical treatments from primary care physicians as well as access to hospitals, dental surgery and additional medical services. With a few exceptions, all citizens qualify for health coverage regardless of medical history, personal income, or standard of living.

Canada has one of the highest life expectancies (about 80 years) and lowest infant mortality rates of industrialized countries, which many attribute to Canada’s health care system.

Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act is federal legislation that puts in place conditions by which individual provinces and territories in Canada may receive funding for health care services.

There are five main principles in the Canada Health Act:

Public Administration: All administration of provincial health insurance must be carried out by a public authority on a non-profit basis. They also must be accountable to the province or territory, and their records and accounts are subject to audits.

Comprehensiveness: All necessary health services, including hospitals, physicians and surgical dentists, must be insured.

Universality: All insured residents are entitled to the same level of health care.

Portability: A resident that moves to a different province or territory is still entitled to coverage from their home province during a minimum waiting period. This also applies to residents which leave the country.

Accessibility: All insured persons have reasonable access to health care facilities. In addition, all physicians, hospitals, etc, must be provided reasonable compensation for the services they provide.

Health insurance in Canada is handled by individual provinces and territories. New residents to a particular province must apply for health coverage. Upon being granted health coverage, a health card is issued which provides coverage in that particular province or territory.

For new residents, there are typically waiting periods before health coverage will be granted. This can vary, but cannot exceed three months as part of the Canada Health Act.

Certain provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario) require health care premiums for services. Under the Canada Health Act, however, health services cannot be denied due to financial inability to pay premiums.

In addition to standard health coverage as described in the Canada Health Act, provinces typically provide additional services. These can include physiotherapy, dental coverage, and prescription medicines.

Private Health Insurance

While the health care system in Canada covers basic services, including primary care physicians and hospitals, there are many services that are not covered. These include special requests like dental services, optometrists, and excluded prescription medications.

Private health insurance plans are usually offered as part of employee benefit packages in many companies. Incentives usually include vision and dental care. Alternatively, Canadians can purchase insurance packages from private insurance providers.

The main reason many choose to purchase private insurance is to supplement primary health coverage. For those requiring services that may not be covered under provincial health insurance such as corrective lenses, medications, or home care, a private insurance plan offsets such medical expenses.

While private insurance can benefit those with certain specific needs, many Canadians choose to rely exclusively on the public health system.

Public Health Care Providers

Under the Canada Health Act, primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals and dental surgery are all covered by provincial insurance policies.

Primary care physicians are the forefront of Canada’s healthcare system. There are currently about 30000 primary care doctors in Canada, and they account for just over half of all physicians. They provide basic medical treatments and preventative care.

Specialists are provided for services outside the scope of primary care physicians. Typically, an individual’s physician will refer them to specialists as needed. There are currently about 28000 specialist doctors working in Canada.

Hospitals operate both with referrals from physicians as well as on an emergency basis. Ambulatory services are provided for those unable to transport themselves to a hospital in the event of an emergency.

Private Clinics

In addition to public health care providers such as primary care doctors and hospitals, many private clinics offering specialized services also operate in Canada.

Under federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act. Regardless of this legal issue, many do offer such services.

The advantage of private clinics is that they typically offer services with reduced wait times compared to the public health care system. For example, obtaining an MRI scan in a hospital could require a waiting period, whereas it could be obtained much faster in a private clinic.

Costs in private clinics are usually covered by private insurance policies, which will typically pay around 80% of the costs.

Accessing Health Care

Accessing Canada’s health care system involves first applying for a provincial health card. Excluding inmates, the Canadian Armed Forces and certain members of the RCMP, the Canada Health Act requires all residents of a province or territory to be accepted for health coverage. There is a waiting period in place for new immigrants that cannot exceed three months.

Once a health card is assigned, it is used whenever visiting a physician or health care provider. The health card contains an identification number, which is used to access a person’s medical information.

After obtaining health coverage, one can register with a primary care physician. For routine visits to a physician, one needs only present their health card. There are typically no forms to be filled out or individual service fees.

The availability of physicians depends largely on the number of doctors and the current demand for medical services. Currently there is about 1 primary care doctor for every 1000 Canadians.

Health Care Funding

Health care in Canada is funded at both the provincial and federal levels. The financing of health care is provided via taxation both from personal and corporate income taxes. Additional funds from other financial sources like sales tax and lottery proceeds are also used by some provinces.

Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario also charge health premiums to supplement health funding, but such premiums are not required for health coverage as per the Canada Health Act.

 

Health Care and the Economy

  • Canada’s health care has a large impact on the Canadian economy. Here are a few facts and figures about the economy and health care:
  • Health care expenditures in Canada topped $100 billion in 2001.
  • Approximately 9.5% of Canada’s gross domestic product is spent on health care. In comparison, the United States spends close to 14% of its GDP on health care.
  • Individually, Canadians spend about $3300 per capita on health care.
  • At a provincial level, funding is between one-third and one-half of what provinces spend on social programs.
  • About three-quarters of all funding come from public sources, with the remainder from private sources such as businesses and private insurance.

With all this being added to the list of benefits that come as being a Canadian resident, seems like the country itself is a great option when it comes to immigration. Remember, if you want to migrate to Canada or find out if you are eligible for obtaining the Canadian permanent residency or citizenship, fill in our assessment. we are here to help. Live better, start now.

 

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