Personal health is a universal concern. And with events such as the COVID-19 global crisis, the importance of having health insurance is more critical than ever.
Health insurance plans differ in rates and features. To start with, most insurance companies offer a basic package, which is the most affordable and the most common.
Another insurance company may also offer group benefits or health and dental insurance in one plan. That can be appealing because dental coverage is excluded from most basic health insurance plans. It’s important to be clear what’s covered because it varies massively.
Is Health Insurance Necessary for Me in Canada?
Canada provides Medicare benefits for its citizens. So some people think that health insurance is no longer necessary. Indeed, Canadian residents have free access to hospital and physician service, with no need to pay out-of-pocket. This is standard within Canada’s territorial and provincial health systems. These related pages dedicated to health insurance in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec will help you understand the differences from province to province. However, this public health insurance plan will not guarantee your expenses on services like:
- vision care
- prescription drugs
- dental care
- ambulance service, and
- home care or independent living expenses
There are times when you don’t qualify for supplementary health insurance benefits. Generally provided by your territorial and provincial health care system. You’d have to use personal funds to pay for the expenses. But if you have taken out a plan from an insurance company, your needs may be covered.
What Are the Different Types of Health Insurance?
Health insurance comes as basic or expanded. Add-on or combination of plan coverage from other types of insurance fall under an expanded health insurance plan. Let’s look at these options more closely below:
Personal Health Insurance
Personal health insurance plans can be necessary. They pay for medical expenses your public health insurance doesn’t cover. Depending on the health insurance provider, your entitlement may include:
- preventive care
- prescription drugs you need for chronic or serious health ailments
- emergency medical services received outside of Canada
- wellness consults and therapy for injuries sustained, and
- medical equipment for mobility or care
Group Health Insurance
This type of health insurance for employees is a benefit from company owners. Plan coverage may differ between companies. So you have to read the fine print once you get accepted at your new job. This way, you know what health insurance to take out. Some of the group benefits that employers may provide are a combination of the following:
- life insurance
- accidental death and dismemberment insurance
- short-term and long-term disability insurance
- dental insurance, and
- prescription drugs
Expanded Health Insurance Plans
This is health insurance bundled with another type of insurance. Some of which are:
Health Plus Disability Insurance Plan
An increasing number of Canadians are taking out disability insurance. As of 2018,12 million people have taken out this plan in addition to health insurance.
Note that these plans cover loss of income in case of one’s disability and inability to work. But you need health insurance to cover long-term care and other essential medical care. If you are self-employed, you need to look at the detail.
Health Plus Travel Insurance Plan
The Health Plan Plus covers expenses incurred from medical services while you travel. Both internationally or just between local provinces.
Health and Dental Insurance Plans
Dental insurance plans cover services like unlimited tooth fillings, dental x-rays and root canals.
Health Plus Life Insurance Plans
The insured benefits from a health insurance plan plus extends benefits to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. Note that some insurance plans exclude pre-existing conditions.
Best Health Insurance Companies in Canada
There are several providers headquartered across Canada. You may even be able to take out a plan online. Here are some companies to check out:
Blue Cross Canada
This company has been in the health care service since 1941. This company provides travel and health cover for customers.
For health coverage, you can avail of either a basic, regular, or enhanced health benefits plan. Some benefits you can purchase in combination are:
- ambulance service
- dental care
- nursing care, and
- accidental Dental of up to $2,000 max per calendar year
Sun life gives you three choices: basic, standard, or enhanced. The basic tier covers 60% reimbursement on prescription drugs and preventive dental care. Travel coverage is available on standard and enhanced tiers. Vision care is available on the enhanced tier. Semi-private hospital stay is an optional add-on in all tiers.
Travel Insurance CAA
You can take out different plans from this provider. Besides travel insurance, you may purchase coverage for your pet, auto, dental care, health, life, and home.
Note that Manulife underwrites CAA insurance plans. For the CAA health and dental plan, you can choose from three different plans. However, all plans include the following:
Extended Health Care (EHC)
- eye care
- $400 max per year per specialist, or therapist (must be registered)
- drug add-ons are excluded
Dental 2 Cover
- 80% reimbursement for eligible out-of-pocket dental costs (examinations, cleanings, fillings, x-rays, and extractions)
Canada Life Assurance Company
This provider has merged with The Great-West Life Assurance Company in January 2020. It offers a broad range of plans that provide different benefits to the insured. But to give you some insight, here are some benefits under the PlanDirect Basic plan:
- 80% reimbursement on eligible prescription drugs ($1,000 max per year)
- hospital stay
- paramedical service
- eye care
- hearing aids
- ambulance service
- nursing care at home or in a centre, and
- eligible dental expenses
The Bottom Line
Canada offers Medicare for its residents, but not every health and medical expense is covered. Consider taking out personal health cover with add-ons. This is vital if you want to cover expenses like prescription drugs, vision care, semi-private room accommodation, and physical or wellness therapies.
Health insurance providers offer a variety of plans at different rates. So make a careful estimation of the essential plan benefits you need at a price you can regularly pay for. This way, you ensure continued plan coverage all year.