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Health Insurance for Expats in Canada

Submitted: September 2013

Private health insurance in Canada is good to have, but Canadians generally use it as a supplement to the subsidised Medicare system. It is advisable to get your insurance arrangements in order prior to entering Canada.

A Canadian hospital is unlikely to accept your insurance details unless your insurance policy is Canadian. Consequently, you should be prepared to pay upfront and apply for reimbursement from your insurer.

Tax treatment of health insurance

Employer-provided private health insurance is not a taxable benefit in kind. However, premiums are paid to a provincial health insurance plan are a taxable benefit in kind.

Private health insurance, other than employer-provided health insurance, may qualify as an eligible medical expense under the medical expense tax credit. See National Health Service for Expats in Canada.

More information on benefits in kind in Canada can be found on the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website.

International cover

You should check the geographical coverage of your existing insurance policy, if you have any.

If you have a foreign policy but you haven’t been sold it as an international insurance cover specifically designed for expats, your policy is unlikely to work in Canada. In that case, you should let your insurer know that you are moving to Canada, and switch to an international cover. Your insurer is likely to charge you extra for this, but do bear in mind that the very fact of being insured in several countries carries an extra burden as well.

A good international cover would insure you against:

  • medical costs in Canada
  • medical costs in your home country (or another relevant foreign country), and
  • medical evacuation costs (without adequate insurance, these can be well above  $10,000, or even in excess of $50,000).

If you are coming to Canada only for a temporary visit, you probably don’t need international health insurance if you have appropriate travel insurance.

 

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