Health care in Canada

In Canada, access to health care is regarded as a basic human right. All citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents are entitled to see a family doctor or specialist, undergo screening procedures such as X-rays and blood tests, and receive emergency medical care without any out-of-pocket expense.

Health care services are administered by the appropriate ministries and departments in each province and territory. The health care system is easy to use: patients simply present a health card issued by their province or territory, and the health care provider takes care of all of the administration related to billing and provincial insurance.

What does provincial health care cover?

Most of the provincial and territorial health care systems cover a wide variety of medical costs, including the following:

  • Visits to a family doctor or primary care physician
  • Visits to specialists, such as obstetricians, cardiologists and oncologists
  • Screening procedures, such as blood tests, X-rays and MRI’s
  • Pregnancy and post-natal care, including ultrasounds and delivery
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital treatments
  • Hospital stays in a general ward
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Vision testing for children 18 and under

Services that are not covered include the following:

  • Dental care, although programs are available for some seniors and children
  • Prescription drugs, although there are some exceptions in Ontario and Quebec
  • Certain specialists, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors and psychotherapists
  • Private and semi-private hospital rooms
  • Most elective or cosmetic procedures

Canadian health ministries are strong proponents of preventative care. For this reason, the provincial and territorial health care systems fund regular mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears and other tests. The frequency of screening depends on the condition being tested for as well as the age and biological sex of the patient.

Most Canadians are strongly in favour of the Canadian health care system due to the administrative ease and the quality of care.

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