The Canadian healthcare system is designed to provide citizens with access to affordable medical care regardless of income level or geographical location. However, foreigners, visitors, and someone without health insurance are risking their finances, especially in case of an emergency. You might need to pay out-of-pocket for medical treatments in Canada.
In Canada, the average cost of a routine doctor’s check is between $60 and $120. Doctors in Canada bill around $54 per visit, while specialists charge $74.However, most medical treatments are free for all Canadian residents covered by the universal insurance plan.
How much will you pay when visiting a doctor in Canada? Well, legal residents pay zero since they have a universal healthcare card that covers all expenses. Yet, non-residents, someone without health insurance or with a private plan, will face high medical costs. Let’s look at the general healthcare costs in Canada and what you should expect.
How much does medical treatment cost in Canada?
Without appropriate health insurance, you can expect to pay as high as $4,000 for a night in a Canadian hospital and $20,000 for a simple surgery. Don’t forget about the prices of prescripted medicines.
Consequently, you always want to make sure you have a sufficient healthcare plan that includes all necessary and emergency treatments, whether visiting or living in Canada.
Do Canadians pay for healthcare?
Despite that the medical treatment costs nothing to Canadian residents, they pay for health insurance with taxes that are deducted from their gross salary.
While it’s believed that healthcare is free in Canada, expect to pay anywhere between $726 to $41,916 annually (based on your income and family size) through taxes.
For example, a single parent with an income of $66,989 annually and one child will pay $3,909, while a single parent with two children and an income of $76,890 will pay $3,842.
For a non-resident in Canada, you’re eligible for universal healthcare coverage, but you must provide a healthcare insurance card for your medical providers. Otherwise, you’ll be expected to cover your healthcare costs through private insurance.
Canada allows non-citizens either working or staying in the country for at least six months to apply for free healthcare to be eligible. In that case, you may have to wait for three months to get a government health card.
While each province in Canada has its insurance plan and prices, this section will give you a general overview of the average medical treatment cost without health insurance or permanent resident status.
Is Canadian healthcare really free? Read here.
Cost of various treatments
- Ambulance fees depending on the hospital you ask for:
|Most provinces charge a user fee of $45 – $500|
- The cost of giving birth, depending on the hospital:
|Regular delivery||averages between $5,000 to $8,000|
|C-section||between $10,000 to $12,000|
- Other baby-related costs as required:
|Prenatal doctor visits||$100 to $150|
|Prenatal ultrasound||$300 to $500|
|Homebirth and delivery with a midwife||$2,400 to $3,200|
- Hospital outpatient fees on average:
- Other fees in addition to outpatient fees depending on the hospital:
|Day surgery||3,000 to 5,000|
|X-ray||100 to 360|
|MRI||1,700 to 2,500|
|CT Scan||1,700 to 2,500|
|High-risk ultrasound Lab tests||average 500|
|Physicians visit||100 to 600|
Hospital inpatient fees room charges per day, depending on the hospital:
|Wardroom regular||3,300 to 7,200|
|Ward – intensive care||5,600 to 14,500|
|Emergency room||700 to 995|
Treatment costs of hepatitis B-related conditions depending on the deteriorating liver function:
|Chronic hepatitis B||1,997 – 2,556|
|Compensated cirrhosis||2,389 – 4,462|
|Decompensated cirrhosis||8,309 – 16,388|
|Hepatocellular carcinoma||10,608 – 17,187|
|Liver transplant||94,328 – 10,6833|
|Transplant care after the first year||33,443 – 46,087|
Cost of dental treatment in Canada
The average cost of a routine dental exam in Canada is $48.60. The cost of more extensive procedures, such as root canals or dental crowns, can be significantly higher. For example, the average cost of a root canal is $1,200, while the price of a dental crown can be as much as $2,000 or more.
The private per capita spending on dental services per person averages $835, while public per capita spending is $23.60. While most basic healthcare services are covered by public health insurance, dental care isn’t typically included.
With that said, Canadians are responsible for financing their oral healthcare and can, either through third-party insurance, private dental insurance, directly out-of-pocket, or government-subsidized programs. They often have to pay out-of-pocket for dental services, which can be expensive.
Healthcare in Canada for non-residents
For a new resident or visa holder in Canada, you’re eligible for universal healthcare coverage according to the Canada Health Act. Still, you may have to wait for up to three months, depending on your location.
This means that you’ll be expected to cover some healthcare costs out of pocket or through a private insurance plan during this waiting period, as new immigrants have limited access to free medical care.
For example, in Ontario, their healthcare plan (OHIP) is the only one in the country that covers prescription drugs for those under the age of 24 but does not include international students.
On the other hand, British Columbia covers both international students and working visa holders under MSP.
While Canada’s free and public healthcare system is generous for its citizens and permanent residents, it is not entirely free when it comes to non-residents. Immigrants will be expected to cover some costs from the pocket when seeking medical attention.
What does the government healthcare plan cover?
While each province in Canada may provide slightly different coverage, there are general things that the universal healthcare plan may cover. This may include:
- Visits to an emergency room
- Family doctor’s appointments
- Walk-in clinic appointments, and visits to some healthcare providers
- Medical tests and surgeries
- Necessary surgery
- Laboratory and other diagnostic procedures
If you’re looking for additional services not covered by the government healthcare program, you’ll have to pay some of the costs out of pocket or use private insurance. These costs may include:
- Dental services
- Most prescription drugs
- Eye exams and eyewear, like glasses or contacts
- Ambulance services
- Appliances such as crutches, hearing aids and wheelchairs
- Visits to chiropractors, physiotherapists, and similar health providers
When to apply for free healthcare
Since you may have to wait for up to three months to be eligible for a government health card in Canada, apply for free healthcare immediately after landing. This will help minimize the burden of the cost of healthcare much sooner.
While the waiting period may depend on each province and its guidelines, you may have to check your location and take the necessary steps. However, the three-month waiting period applies to new permanent residents in:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
What documents do you need to apply for a free healthcare card?
To apply for a provincial healthcare card, you’ll require identification to prove your eligible immigration status. These documents are:
- Birth certificate
- Pr card or confirmation of Permanent Residence
This document may be subject to the provincial or territorial healthcare program where you plan to live.
Private health insurance for non-residents
While free healthcare in Canada gives you access to essential medical services, you need to note that not everything is covered. Some of the reasons you should consider when getting private insurance in Canada are:
- The coverage you need to protect you or your family during the waiting period
- The healthcare needs of both you and your family. If you or anyone in your family has a health issue that’s not covered in the universal healthcare plan
- If you or anyone in your family requires extensive medical care that should be supplemented by private insurance
If you need additional private health insurance to cover services not covered by the free healthcare program, you can purchase private insurance services in the province where you live.
The health insurance costs in Canada will vary depending on several factors. The most significant influence is your age, benefits, plan design, and chosen deductible.
Generally, the cost of private medical insurance for non-residents averages at $3,162 per year per person. Suppose you’re a non-resident in Canada and may not yet be eligible for the local plans.
In that case, you can access coverage through popular insurance companies, including Cigna Global. In fact, it’s our recommended and affordable health insurance for expats in Canada.
Canada vs the US: healthcare cost
If you compare the US healthcare system to Canada, it costs $7,000 per person. However, in the US, it will cost $10,000 per person, according to CNBC.
While both of these countries rank high according to international surveys of healthcare quality, the difference in their costs is influenced by:
- The negotiating power
The Canadian government has more negotiating power than private insurers when it comes to pricing agreements with drug companies.
- Higher charges
Patients in America face high out-of-pocket costs for urgent medical care, which may be a leading cause of bankruptcy, as stated by NCBI.
Canadians pay for healthcare through taxes, while Americans get insurance through their employer (the higher your earnings, the more you’re taxed in Canada).
For public health care insurance
A Canadian family with the lowest income will pay an average of about $496 per year for health insurance. A family that earns an average income will pay $6,311, while the top income earners will pay $38,903.
To qualify for the federal health insurance in the USA, you must be either 65 years or older, a younger person living with disabilities, or have End-stage Renal Disease. Whereas in Canada, all residents have access to public insurance.
For private health insurance
An average family in Canada spends $4,000 on private insurance. The health insurance premiums prices may vary depending on the level of coverage, age, and quality.
The average national cost for health insurance in the US is $456 for an individual and $1,152 for a family per month. This rate depends on the wide selection of available health plans.
If you compare the healthcare administrative costs in Canada and the US, the Canadian administration costs may be lower.
|Insurance administration||$2,497 per capita (34.2% of national health expenditures)||$551 per capita (17.0% of national health expenditures)|
|Nursing home, homecare, &hospice administration||$255||$123|
|Physicians & insurance-related costs||$465||$87|
From this table, it is clear the US spends almost five times more per person on healthcare administration than Canada does.