Health Insurance: What New Canadian Citizens Should Know

If you’re a new citizen to Canada, you might have a lot of questions about how to start new health insurance. Maybe you heard that health insurance in Canada is free. Or, maybe you heard that every type of service is covered. While Canada provides insurance for its residents, they pay for their healthcare costs out of their taxes.

Here’s information about healthcare in Canada every new resident needs to know. And, how to find the best coverage at the lowest prices.

Canadians Pay for Their Health Insurance - But, Receive Some Free Services

There’s a misconception that Canadians have “free” healthcare. Canadian residents do receive free services but that’s because they pay for their healthcare through their taxes every year. Canadians have a universal healthcare system and as a new resident, you can apply for this public insurance. With the plan, you won’t have to pay for some specific services that are offered for free.

Canadians receive free services that include:

Free emergency care

You don’t need a government healthcare card for this and you can walk into any E.R. to be treated in any province or territory. But, if you go to a walk-in clinic outside your province or territory, they may charge a fee.

Free doctors’ appointments

You can schedule a doctor’s appointment and you won’t be charged. Just bring your health insurance card with you to the appointment.

Note: In some territories and provinces, it can take up to three months to receive your health insurance card. Check with the Minister of Health in your particular province or territory.

Free inpatient hospital stays

If you are staying in a hospital as a patient, you will receive free care.

Note: This is on an in-patient basis and any care you need after you are discharged from the hospital may have an out-of-pocket fee. (See supplemental insurance and what’s not covered below).

Free medication while in a hospital

As a patient in a hospital in Canada, you won’t have to pay for your medications.

Note: When you are discharged from a hospital in Canada, if you have to start or renew a prescription, this may not be covered. Check in your province or territory to see if you have to pay any out-of-pocket fees.  (See supplemental insurance and what’s not covered below).

Coverage for refugee claimants, refugees and protected persons

Canada also offers coverage if you are a refugee claimant or protected person. The service is provided through the Interim Federal Health Program. It's temporary coverage that provides care for refugees, refugee claimants and protected persons. Their dependents are also covered. To learn more about this, check in your province or territory.

What’s NOT Included in Canada’s Universal Healthcare Plan

While the Government Health Insurance Plan will give you access to free basic coverage, there are services that are not included. You may need to start a private or supplemental insurance plan to cover the difference.

Services that are not included are:

  • Prescription Drugs.
  • Prescription Eyecare and Glasses.
  • Ambulatory Services.
  • Dental Care.
  • Physiotherapy-Related Services.

Finding Supplemental or Private Health Insurance

To ensure you have adequate coverage in Canada, look for private health insurance. Let’s look at an example:

A private insurance company may offer different health insurance plans. It might include coverage for prescription medications, post-hospital care and massage therapy. They may also cover dental care and vision care with eye exams. Extended coverage (at a higher charge) will include access to a member assistance program and offer home support services.

How do you decide which private or supplemental insurance plan is right for you? And, how do you find the cheapest plans?

To avoid having to look up one plan at a time, when you’re ready to shop for insurance, take the following steps:

  1. Click the online insurance comparison tool to compare quotes. With a few simple clicks, you can receive insurance rates from Canada’s top insurers.
  2. Find the cheapest insurance price or shop for the insurance package you want. If you have kids, look for plans that offer the most dependent care. If you're a senior, look for plans that will save you the most in medication costs and long-term care.
  3. Contact the insurer to start your plan and lock in the rates.

Ready to Find the Best Health Insurance Rates?

When you move to Canada, while the Government offers a universal health insurance plan, some services are not covered. Shop for private or supplemental insurance so you can spend less money out-of-pocket. And, use an online comparison tool to compare rates from Canada's healthcare insurers. It's a fast and convenient way to find the most affordable plans. If you need help with insurance or if you have questions, contact

With, you can compare health insurance rates from the leading insurers in Canada (and save more money).