The Canadian healthcare system

The best way to describe Canada’s public funded health system Medicare is as a set of ten provincial and three territorial health insurance plans. Through the Canada Health Act, the federal government requires that provincial and territorial health insurance plans cover all medically necessary physician and hospital services to qualify for full federal transfers.

What this means is that, under this system, Canada's provinces and territories are responsible for administering their own healthcare plans, and must provide residents with prepaid coverage for all necessary hospital and physician services.

Coverage is universal for eligible residents of Canada. General practitioners (GPs) are chosen by individuals through phone books within the province. If a patient needs to see a specialist, a referral can be made by a GP.

Healthcare services include insured primary health care (such as the services of physicians and other health professionals) and care in hospitals, which account for the majority of provincial and territorial health expenditures.

The provinces and territories also provide some groups with supplementary health benefits not covered by the Act, such as prescription drug coverage. The level and scope of coverage for supplementary benefits varies between jurisdictions.

The type of coverage you receive depends on which province or territory you settle in. For more information on the healthcare system for each of Canada’s provinces and territories, follow the links below:


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