Best Guide to Health Insurance for International Students in Canada

Top Health Insurance in Canada

Many people are moving to Canada for Study, Work and Other purpose, in this article we will work you through the steps and explain how the healthcare system works and why international students need health insurance while studying in Canada.

Why should I take out health insurance in Canada?

Those who do not have health insurance in Canada must pay for all medical care they receive. All regions of Canada offer free services to save lives in an emergency.

However, if you need anything, from medicines to emergency assistance, you will have to pay for it yourself. This can be expensive and can hardly be financed without health insurance.

The benefits of health insurance as an international student include:

  • Expenses for injuries, diseases and other health conditions are covered
  • Single insurance plans cover you for your whole stay in Canada, meaning that there is no need to renew each year
  • Plans are affordable and designed for students (prices will vary based on age and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions)
  • You can get health plans that cover family or dependants who are visiting with you

How does health insurance work in Canada for international students?

Canada’s public health care system (Medicare) is tax-funded, which means that all Canadian citizens and permanent residents pay for and have access to the system if they need medical assistance. Because international students do not pay taxes (or only pay part of taxes if they work part-time), they do not have access to this service and must have private health care to use the system.

Health policies vary across Canada’s 13 provincial areas. With private health insurance, you will receive a card that hospitals and other medical facilities can use to provide the agreed medical care free of charge. Administrative wait times for this card vary by location. Alberta usually issues the card within a few weeks, but in British Columbia it can take up to three months, meaning you need to make arrangements before traveling to Canada to begin your studies.

Most universities require students to organize their own private health care, but some interprovincial universities offer insurance for international students, so check with your institution first.

In some provinces – such as Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan – international student health insurance is available and can be purchased “before arrival”. Other provinces — such as Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon Territory — do not offer health insurance to international students, so students must purchase private insurance in their country of origin, which can then be extended to Canada.

What is international health insurance?

Canada is divided into provinces, so some health plans will only cover your medical expenses incurred in the specific province where you purchased the insurance.

This means that if you plan to travel to other parts of Canada during your study abroad experience, you should consider purchasing out-of-province health insurance, which will ensure you have health coverage wherever you are.

How do international students get healthcare in Canada?

There are two options for international students in Canada who are looking to take out health insurance.

  • Purchasing private healthcare directly from an insurance company (see list below)
  • Registering for insurance through university

If the state where your university is located does not offer health insurance, you must obtain international private insurance abroad.

How much does healthcare cost in Canada for international students?

Paying for medical services out of pocket without insurance can get very expensive. Costs start at $120 for doctor visits and $1,000 for emergency room visits. If you need to stay in a patient room, the cost for the room alone can be around $3,700 per night.

The price of Canadian health insurance can vary depending on the level of insurance chosen, pre-existing conditions and length of insurance. However, the average fee for an international student is $600-$900 per year.

What are some recommended health insurance plans for international students?

There are many health insurance options for international students in Canada, but these are a few of the top-rated plans: