Government Benefits in Canada

Medical Care

Canada's health care system is a publicly funded health care system, with most services provided by private entities. It is important to understand that it is not a true public system, even though the government calls it so. In Canada the various levels of government pay for about 70% of Canadians' health care costs, which is about average for a developed country. Canada is unusual in that the government pays for almost 100% of hospital and physician care, but contributes very little in areas such as prescription drug costs and dental care.

Canada's healthcare system provides diagnostic, treatment and preventive services to every Canadian regardless of income level or station in life.

Each province in Canada manages its own healthcare system. For example, each province issues its own healthcare identification cards and negotiates with the federal government for money to cover healthcare costs. Each province also provides its own prescription drug benefit plan, available to every Canadian regardless of income level. The prescription drug benefit is, however, adjusted for income, with a higher co-payment required for those with higher personal incomes. The prescription drug benefit is very comprehensive and rarely excludes a medication. Where a medication is excluded that is needed by a patient, the patient applies for coverage under the plan for that drug using a Section 8 form.

Dental care is not covered by any government insurance plans. Canadians rely on their employers, individual private insurance, or simply pay cash themselves for dental treatments.

The range of services for vision care coverage varies widely among the provinces. Generally, vision care is covered (cataract surgery, diabetic vision care, some laser eye surgeries required as a result of disease); the main exception is the standard vision test, which patients pay for if they have their eyes tested more than once within a two-year period. In Alberta you are charged for every vision test that is taken.

Naturopathic services are covered in some cases, but homeopathic services are generally not covered. Chiropractic is partially covered in some provinces. Cosmetic procedures are not typically covered.

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