While Canada is famous for its free Canadian health care, the majority of these services are only available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
For this reason, all international students attending school in Canada must arrange for health insurance for the duration of their study program.
Canadian Health Care System
Canada's health care system varies from province to province. Foreign nationals planning to study in the country should familiarize themselves with the Canadian health care offered by their province of study.
Some provinces do cover international students under provincial health insurance plans, but the majority of provinces require students to register for private health insurance plans.
Health Insurance Options for International Students
In many provinces requiring international students to obtain private health insurance, the educational institutions themselves offer health insurance packages to international students.
Schools may have different policies regarding health insurance enrollment, some requiring registration while others allowing students to opt out if they have private health insurance from another source.
Educational institutions will be familiar with the health insurance requirements for international students.
Canadian Health Care Coverage
All Canadian citizens and permanent residents have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital services without needing to pay out of pocket.
The universal Canadian health care provided to all Canadians only covers medically necessary services, which is considered basic health care coverage.
Health Insurance for Temporary Residents
Those in Canada without permanent resident or citizen status should expect to pay out-of-pocket for medical services unless they have private health insurance. Temporary residents, such as international students, have several options for securing health insurance:
- They can purchase private insurance from an insurance company.
- If they are working in Canada, they may receive health insurance from their employer.
- If they are studying in Canada, they may register for insurance through their school.
Emergency Services for Temporary Residents
In the event of an emergency, all provinces and territories will provide free services, even if a patient does not possess a government health card.
However, there may be significant restrictions on the services that can be provided depending on a person's immigration status.