A Guide to Student Medical Insurance in Canada

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Amira Adel

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22 September, 2021

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3 mins read

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University Life

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When travelling to a new country, it’s important to understand the health care system of that country; Canada’s health care system is no exception. The country is well-known as an international student hub for many reasons, and health care is one of them. All international students who study in Canada are required to have health insurance. However, medical insurance in Canada varies from province to province. Therefore, we will walk you through a guide to student medical insurance in Canada.

Student Medical Insurance in Canada

As an international student, you should be eligible for a provincial health care card covering basic medical services and emergency care in most provinces. 

How to Apply for a Provincial Health Card?

  1. Apply online from a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or a hospital.

  2. Submit your ID. In this case, an acceptable ID such as a birth certificate, passport, confirmation of permanent residence (IMM 5292), or permanent resident card is all you need.

  3. Wait for the application to move forward and get accepted. 

  4. Go to your issuer’s office and get the card. 

Don’t forget that you will need to show your card at the hospital or the clinic for any kind of medicare treatment for you or your family member. Additionally, don’t let anyone else use your card! You could face criminal charges and be removed from Canada as that is illegal. 

Healthcare in Canada

Is the Provincial Healthcare Card Enough for Medical Insurance?

Many medical services are not covered by the Canadian provincial health care system, such as vision care, dental care, some diagnostic testing services, and prescription medications. Also, some services are only partially covered by the provincial health care system, such as hospitalisation. Furthermore, some provinces like Nova Scotia don’t provide even provincial health care plans to international students; therefore, if you study in one of these provinces, you will have to arrange your private health insurance. 

 Student Medical Insurance in Canada by Province

Here’s a list of provinces and territories that offer public health insurance for international students in Canada: 

  • Alberta

  • British Columbia

  • New Brunswick

  • Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Northwest Territories

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Quebec (sometimes)

  • Saskatchewan

And here’s a list of provinces and territories that don’t offer public health insurance for international students:

  • Manitoba

  • Nova Scotia

  • Nunavut;  not applicable as it doesn’t have any designated learning institutions (DLIs) for international students.

  • Ontario

  • Yukon

What About Traveling Outside the Province?

Provincial health care coverage, whether provided through a free government program or purchased through a private plan, can only cover healthcare-related expenses which take place within that specific province. Therefore, international students who travel outside of their province of study, whether to another region within Canada or to a whole different country outside of Canada, must consult their health insurance provider to find out if they will be covered during their travels or not. 

Suppose your Canadian student medical insurance does not extend to periods of travel. In that case, you should purchase private health insurance to cover medical expenses during your travelling period. Private health insurance usually covers include dental costs, prescription drugs, prescription glasses, ambulance services, and private hospital rooms. 

Private Health Insurance in Canada

You should know that all provinces and territories will provide free services in an emergency, even if one doesn’t have a government health card. However, there may be significant restrictions on the services that can be provided depending on one's immigration status, which is why it might be a good idea to think about private medical insurance. 

How to find the Best Private Health Insurance?

There are resources available for international students who wish to explore private insurance options offered within Canada:

This is Canada’s independent information service for consumers of Canadian life and health insurance. It also acts as an independent complaint resolution service for insurance consumers.

This is a public listing tool run by OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance. It lists 99% of insurance programs offered by Canadian life and health insurance companies. 

Finally, remember that regardless of the insurance plan you have, it is always better to stay safe. Therefore, keep yourself busy with beneficial activities and try to stay out of trouble. Also, choose good accommodation with a good heating system to avoid getting a cold. Browse through some of the best student accommodations in Canada with casita. 


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