Health Care in Western Canada

In the Western provinces, government health insurance provides coverage for most medical needs. You can check the links below to find out what is not covered by insurance in your province. Generally, health insurance covers required medical procedures with doctors, specialists, and surgeons, including hospital stays. It does not cover cosmetic procedures, medical examinations or procedures not recommended by your doctor. It also does not generally cover prescriptions, ambulance rides, or dental procedures. As with other types of insurance, health insurance in Canada costs money. The amount you pay depends on how much you earn, so Whether or not health care costs are paid separately from income tax in the province where you live, per capita health care costs are very similar across the country. There are programs in every province In BC, there are programs available to help eligible, low income earners. Check your province's website for programs that provide temporary or permanent relief from paying health insurance fees. In all provinces, there are programs that provide additional insurance you can buy to cover the cost of medicine prescribed by your doctor. Furthermore, each province has programs in place to provide dental and eye care for children from eligible, low income families so that children from these families can have all the advantages of growing up in Canada. Check your province's government health website for more information.

Who is Eligible?

Alberta

In Alberta, residents are eligible for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, or AHCIP if they are:

• a citizen of Canada who lives in Alberta
• a permanent resident of Canada wishing to settle in Alberta
• a post-secondary international student with a study permit lasting six months or longer
• a temporary worker with a work permit of six months or longer
• not claiming residency or obtaining benefits under a claim of residency in another province, territory or country

If you register for AHCIP from outside Canada, your coverage begins from the day your register. If you register after moving to Alberta from another Canadian province or territory, your coverage begins three months after registration. However, you may claim reimbursement for medical expenses that would normally be covered under AHCIP if they are incurred during the waiting period. For information about how to register and the documents required, visit (AHCIP Registration Requirements)

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, all residents must register for Saskatchewan Health Benefits and receive a Saskatchewan Health Services Card. Enrollment in Saskatchewan Health Benefits is mandatory if you are:

  • a citizen of Canada who lives in Saskatchewan
  • a permanent resident
  • a post-secondary international student with a study permit lasting six months or longer
  • a temporary worker with a work permit of six months or longer Saskatchewan Health Benefits allows citizens and permanent residents of Saskatchewan to retain their coverage when working outside the province temporarily. However, if you will be outside Saskatchewan for longer than three months, but still claim residency there, you will need to provide notice and documentation to Saskatchewan Health. If you register for Saskatchewan Health Benefits from outside Canada, your coverage begins from the day your register. If you register after moving to Saskatchewan from another Canadian province or territory, your coverage begins three months after registration. If you move to Saskatchewan without your spouse, but your spouse joins you within the first 12 months of your arrival, your spouses' coverage will be processed at the same time as yours and will begin at the same time. For information about how to register and the documents required, visit (How To Apply For a Health Services Card)

Manitoba

In Manitoba, all residents must register for Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan, or MHSIP and receive a Manitoba Health Card.

You are eligible for enrollment in MHSIP if you are:

  • a citizen of Canada who lives in Manitoba
  • a permanent resident
  • a temporary worker with a work permit of six months or longer

When you register for Manitoba Health Coverage, your coverage begins three months after registration. For information about how to register and the documents required, visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mhsip/

British Columbia

In British Columbia, all residents must register for BC health insurance, called the Medical Services Plan, or MSP. Enrollment in MSP is mandatory if you are:

  • a citizen of Canada who lives in BC
  • a permanent resident
  • a government-assisted refugee
  • a post-secondary international student with a study permit lasting six months or longer
  • a temporary worker with a work permit of six months or longer

You must be physically present in BC for at least six months out of the year to qualify for MSP. Your MSP coverage begins three months after registration. For information about how to register and the documents required, visit http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/insurance/bcresidents.html

Going to the doctor

After your application is approved, you will get your health card in the mail. It is important to always bring this card with you when you go to the doctor, hospital, or pharmacy. It contains your personal health number, or PHN, which is unique to you. Without this number, doctors can't treat you, because they can't access your insurance information or your medical history to treat you properly.

In Canada, there are two types of physicians; family doctors, and specialists. Family doctors, also called general practitioners (or gps), are the first person you should see if you have medical problem.

There are two ways to see a general practitioner in Canada. You can go online to The College of Physicians and Surgeons website for your province and find a local family doctor who is accepting new patients. If you do not have a family doctor and you need to see one, you can go to any walk-in clinic, where you do not need to make an appointment. Clinics can be found in the phonebook under Physicians, by visiting your province's HealthLink website, or by dialing 8-1-1 for residents of British Columbia. You must see a family doctor first to obtain a referral to a specialist. Specialists are often the doctors that issue orders for tests and further examination and can provide you with a more in-depth diagnosis of many conditions.

In an emergency

If you need immediate medical attention, or if you have a serious accident or emergency, go to the emergency department at the nearest hospital. Don't forget to bring your health card and an interpreter if you need one. If you require an ambulance, call 9-1-1, but remember, in Canada it is against the law to call 9-1-1 if you are not reporting an emergency.

CNM

This story is from the "Alberta - Land of Opportunity" InfoBlock. To read more stories on this topic, click here.