Small Business Brief


US vs CA: 10 Things You Need to Know About Canadian Health Insurance

In 2017, long medical treatment wait times cost citizens $1.9 billion in lost wages. This unbelievably long wait time can be attributed to Canada’s healthcare system. 

Many Americans have the impression that Canada’s health insurance is better. The truth is, the Canadian and U.S. healthcare system have their benefits and drawbacks. Knowing the difference between the two is essential if you’re considering moving to Canada.

Here are the top 10 things you should know about Canadian health insurance: 

1. Canada Has Several Different Healthcare Systems

Americans often believe that Canada has one universal health insurance policy. However, Canada’s health insurance system is broken up into provinces and territories. 

Each province or territory has slightly different policies than its neighbor. In other words, Canadian insurance plans aren’t always the same even though coverage is distributed to everyone around the country. 

With separate policies, each province or territory can effectively treat the needs of their citizens. It only becomes a challenge when your province’s health insurance policy doesn’t cover one of your specific healthcare needs.

2. Canadians Pay for Health Insurance

Just like in the United States, you have to pay for healthcare. Canadian health insurance cost depends on what type of treatment you’re receiving. 

Canadian health insurance covers typical medical treatment like doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and any diagnostic procedures. When it comes to vision care or dental care, many Canadians have to pay a portion of the cost. This can make it difficult for Canadians who are on a tight budget. 

3. Private Health Insurance is an Option

Like I mentioned earlier, some Canadians can’t afford to pay a portion of their medical treatment. That’s why some Canadians turn to private healthcare to cover any gaps in their insurance. 

The types of health insurance offered by a small business are crucial. That’s why private health insurance in Canada is often offered through employee benefit programs and usually comes with vision and dental coverage. Canadians can purchase private health insurance on their own as well. 

4. The Possibility of Wait Times

It takes longer for Canadian patients to receive non-emergency treatment compared to the United States. The average Canadian waited 19.8 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist in 2018. This can be dangerous, as a patient’s health can get considerably worse during long wait times. 

Fortunately, patients who need emergency treatment can get it right away. 

5. Doctors Aren’t Considered Government Employees

Although Canadian health insurance plans are funded by the public, that doesn’t mean that all doctors are employees of the government. Patients can choose which doctor to see, and won’t incur any fees by seeing a primary care doctor. 

Since doctors aren’t employed by the government, they can choose their own hours and locations. They have the responsibility of paying their employees, funding office equipment, and more. Doctors get paid by charging their province for the treatment they give to their patients. 

6. Everyone is Eligible for Health Insurance

In the United States, determining who gets insurance coverage can become a problem. Americans who are unemployed or are immigrants often go without any insurance at all. 

Canadian health care policy makes sure to cover all of its citizens. As long as a Canadian is enrolled in their province’s healthcare system, they can receive insurance. Different provinces and territories cover different items, but a citizen can be assured that they’ll receive the care that they need. 

Non-Canadian citizens can even be offered limited coverage. This includes illegal immigrants, visitors, and people who overstay their visa. 

7. Canadians Have to Pay for Prescriptions

Canada’s health insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of drug prescriptions. In order for Canada to cover the costs of a prescription drug, the patient must be age 65 or older or on welfare. Despite this fact, prescription drug costs are actually cheaper in Canada compared to the United States. 

If a citizen still can’t afford their medication, they can always purchase private insurance. Trying to learn health insurance basics in Canada can make its policies easier to understand. 

8. Canada Has Lower Premiums

Many Americans struggle to pay their monthly premium. In Canada, the premiums are low and affordable. Canadian healthcare gets its funds from sales, corporate and income taxes, which allows the government to implement lower premiums. 

The only downside to lower premiums is the fact that Canadians pay higher taxes. The highest taxes are reserved for the wealthiest citizens, while citizens with a lower income pay less. 

9. Rural Areas Don’t Receive as Much Coverage

Small populations in rural areas often don’t get as much healthcare coverage as other areas. Many citizens in these areas don’t have the healthcare education they need, making them more likely to have higher death rates than other provinces and territories. 

The healthcare facilities in rural areas tend to be sparse and less advanced than those in cities. Many rural citizens have to drive a long way to reach a specialist’s office. It’s also more difficult to receive the proper care at a rural office, as they don’t always have access to the newest technology or medical knowledge. 

10. Canada’s Healthcare is Uncomplicated

In the United States, you’ll receive medical bills that are complicated and difficult to understand. Plus, you’re required to pay confusing deductibles, co-pays, and fill out in-depth medical paperwork.

When you’re insured in Canada, you don’t have to worry about any complex insurance terms, policies, or incomprehensible bills. In fact, you probably won’t have to be in contact with the billing department of medical offices at all–your insurance plan handles it for you. 

Getting Acquainted With Canadian Health Insurance

The United States’ healthcare plan differs greatly from Canada’s–it’s up to you to decide which one is ideal for you. 

Canadian health insurance comes with tons of benefits like lower costs, the freedom to choose your medical provider, and not having to deal with bills. Although there are some drawbacks, Canadian healthcare strives to keep its citizens happy. 

When you own a small business, insurance policies can get frustrating fast. Do you have burning questions about health insurance for your small business? Take a look at our insurance forum for more advice.