How to Get a Health Card in Canada


A Canadian woman

When first arriving in Canada, the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Department recommends applying for a Health Card. It is necessary, by provincial law, for all families living in Canada to have a current Health Card. This does include all infants.

Unlike other countries, it is a relatively straightforward process to obtain a card. Applications can be found at not only the Minister of Health’s offices, but at area hospitals and doctors offices as well. An applicant needs only to fill in the requested information and the appropriate paperwork to the province’s Ministry of Health office.

An important fact about Canadian Health Cards is that they are only valid for the issuing province. If the card holder moves to a different province, a new Health Card must be reapplied for. For simply traveling to a different province for a short period of time, then the card holder should be covered by the Canadian Inter-Provincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement. This insures that the Canadian traveler is covered in the event of any health emergency.

While everyone who is a Canadian resident is guaranteed a Health Card, a few provinces require a three month waiting period. During the three month period, residents are responsible for paying their own health insurance during this time. The provinces include Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia.

For those who are waiting for either residency status or citizenship, the Interim Federal Health Program is available. This program allows those who are waiting, the opportunity to carry health insurance. Once permanent residency has been granted, the provincial health insurance can take effect. The Interim Federal Health Program is also available to all refugees and their families.

The Canadian Health Care Program ensures that all Canadian residents receive the same level of care, regardless of individual income. Generally financed through taxes, some provinces charge a monthly premium that can be waved for less prosperous families.

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