Registering for the Health Insurance Card

How to register for your Canadian health insurance card...

The Canadian Citizenship and Immigration department recommends applying for the health insurance card as soon as possible after arrival in Canada. In most parts of Canada (excluding Manitoba) a personal health card is issued to each member of the family, even babies. In Manitoba only adult health cards are issued, with children's names and identity numbers being listed on the same card.

It is a relatively straightforward process to get a card. Application forms are available at doctor's surgeries, hospitals, pharmacies and provincial ministry of health offices. As well as a completed application form, provincial ministry of health offices also require:

  • The applicant's birth certificate
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence or Citizenship
  • Passport

Health insurance cards are only valid for the province they are issued in. Therefore, if moving to another province/territory another health insurance card will need to be applied for.

When travelling between provinces in Canada, emergency healthcare should be covered by the Interprovincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement, which all provinces/territories (except Quebec) have signed. Necessary medically insured services should be covered by the person's provincial health card and paid for by the host province. Sometimes these are billed directly and sometimes the individual will have to pay and claim the cost from their provincial health ministry.

In most provinces, coverage is available as soon as the application procedure is completed; however, in some provinces, such as Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Quebec, free healthcare is not available to newcomers for the first three months they are resident in Canada. Private healthcare insurance should be sought in these provinces for the three month interim period.

Eligibility

Everyone who is a citizen or permanent resident in Canada is entitled to a healthcare card.

  • Service Canada has links to provincial and territorial healthcare ministries and application procedures

Contributions

Generally healthcare is paid for through taxes but some provinces charge a monthly premium which is waved for lower income families. Everyone who has a healthcare card receives the same level of care, regardless of their employment status or the premiums they pay. There is little need for additional insurance as all essential healthcare is provided for by Medicare, including maternity and fertility treatments.
Those things that are not covered, for example dentistry and prescription eyewear can either be paid for individually or covered by additional private health insurance. Some employers offer group health insurance as part of an employment benefit.

The Interim Federal Health Programme is available to refugees and protected persons new to Canada, who have not been issued a health card. This is a scheme which provides temporary health insurance.

Those things that are not covered, for example dentistry and prescription eyewear can either be paid for individually or individuals and families can choose to pay for additional private health insurance. Some employers offer group health insurance as part of an employment benefit.

The Interim Federal Health Programme is available to refugees and protected persons new to Canada, who have not been issued a health card. This is a scheme which provides temporary health insurance.

Health Services

Healthcare services covered by Medicare generally include:

  • Examinations and treatment by doctors, including specialists
  • Maternity and fertility treatments
  • Many types of surgery
  • Hospital care including x-rays
  • Laboratory tests
  • Most immunisations

Medicare does not cover:

  • Ambulance services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental care
  • Prescription glasses and contact lenses

Some of the items not covered by the provincial healthcare package may be covered by workplace employment benefits and some provinces do pay part of the cost of prescription drugs.