Students going abroad on studies tend to get caught in excitement and fear of such a great change in lifestyle, that they completely ignore the issue of health and wellbeing. If you will be studying in Canada we strictly advice you not to make such a mistake.
Most of the Universities in Canada require a medical health insurance among other documentation in order for the enrollment procedure to be over and if you don’t already possess a health insurance policy that will cover the basic health expenses overseas, one of the first thing you have to do after coming to Canada is purchase health insurance.
If you decide to ignore such a call, and do need medical services at some point you will be spending more money on medical bills than your whole education.
Health insurance system
Canada has a segregated health insurance, individually governed by different provinces. If, for instance you purchase health insurance in a certain province you are given a member card which is acceptable only within that certain region.
As a new resident you are typically bound to wait for some time until you get health insurance in this country, but it may never exceed the period of three months. It is however recommendable to apply for health insurance in advance.
Public health insurance in Canada provides the standard health services, primary care physicians and hospitals, everywhere pretty much the same however, there are provinces that include additional services in the package like physiotherapy, dental coverage, and prescription medicines. Unless there is no change in policy, health insurance companies are not obliged to provide services that are no listed in the Canada Health Act.
Common services that are not included in the majority of health care policies include vision and dental care, prescribed medications and optometrists.
Of course there is private health insurance as well, commonly offered together with an employment contract in Canada and reasonably more expensive as it has commonly a wider coverage. The ones who are able to afford it, go for private health insurance as it covers dental and vision care as well which in Canada will most definitely cost a fortune.
Certainly there are exceptional cases as well that are somewhat obliged to go with private health insurance because of the sensitivity of their situation, commonly chronic patients that need consistent treatment and therapy i.e corrective lenses, medication, home care and other services that are not included in the public health care program.
Another advantage of the private health care system is the lack of waiting lists for e health service, especially if we refer to the more complex ones like surgery or some type of invasive diagnostic examinations, pretty common in public hospitals.
Costs in private clinics are usually covered by private insurance policies, which will typically pay around 80% of the costs.
Although private insurance coverage is wider and more lucrative, Canadians seem to prefer the public health insurance plan as reasonably priced and qualitative.
Canadian Health Insurance for International Students
As for international students in Canada, they must all have health insurance one way or the other. Usually the deal is undergone through the University they chose to attend, it all depends on the province as previously discussed. In some provinces international student might not be included in the public health insurance plan therefore they must purchase private health insurance.
Most of the health insurance policies for international students offer 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week assistance for international students and for an affordable cost. Coverage is available for hospital and doctors’ visits, air ambulance, prescription drugs, dental emergencies, legal and diplomatic referral, assistance with lost documents, contacting relatives, interpretation and translation services, and more.
Students shall arrange health insurance before arriving to Canada as it takes time to obtain the policy; they can arrange it individually through a certain company, enroll in a University or College health plan or sign up for public health and wait in line.
Medical Insurance Costs
In every province the health care policy changes and so does the monthly price international students have to pay for thus plan it in the overall budget.
Students living in this province are not entitled to public health insurance therefore they have to go with a private insurance policy that can easily be arranged through the educational institution they will be studying in. Normally the cost per students in a year is around 480 CAD.
In Nova Scotia students are obliged to sign up for provincial health insurance for 500 CAD a year. Unless you have health care policy with international/overseas coverage you must get signed up for public health insurance through the University/College health care plan for international students.
For those who decide to study in Brunswick regarding health insurance, they can acquire it from the University/College they are about to attend for 275 CAD a year. However this type of health insurance is rather limited to basic services only, and in case you want additional services you can add 200 CAD more to include dental fees and prescribed medication and be set for a year.
Prince Edward Island
If you don’t have any private health insurance that will cover your health expense internationally you are bound to purchase private health insurance in this province for 500 CAD per year. The University/College you have signed up for will take care of the matter once you decide and pay the fees.
If you study in Quebec you will have to enroll in the health care program the University you are attending has designed for you and every other international student. Coverage is pretty limited, including round medical checks and specified hospitalization occasions. It will cost however around 500 CAD per year.
International students in this province are not part of the public health insurance plan therefore they are bound to acquire health insurance from a private department. There is the University Health Insurance plan that takes care of such an issue for only 450 CAD, covering only the most basic services. It is however mandatory.
If you plan on studying for more than six months in this region you will be entitled for public health insurance at a great deal. Reasonable coverage for only 450 CAD per year. The money will be paid together with the tuitions payments.
In this province you are entitled for public health insurance as long as this is your fist place to live for more than 3 months after you come in Canada from hometown. Coverage is rather generous; dental and vision care of course not included.
In Alberta, student pay a monthly fee for health insurance covering basic health services in the public domain. It is a package designed specifically for international students which costs 68 CAD per month.
If you are about to study in the province of British Columbia you are entitled to sign up for health insurance in the Medical Services Plan and wait from around 2-3 months until the application is processed and granted. Until this time you can either purchase private health insurance on monthly basis or check if the University offers any other wiser idea on the matter. Health Insurance Policy in this province is also paid monthly and it costs 36 CAD per month.