Immigration to Canada: Differences Between US and Canadian Healthcare

Immigration to Canada: Differences Between US and Canadian Healthcare

Since immigration to Canada from USA is what you’re after, you probably want to know what healthcare in Canada is like. And what’s different from US healthcare? US patients pay for their medical services using premiums or copays – they never get free healthcare.

But that’s no different in Canada. While the Canadian healthcare system has many benefits, “free healthcare” in Canada is a myth. It’s not actually free because Canadians pay for it via taxes.

Healthcare statistics comparing Canada and the US are available from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. As of 2019, the healthcare expense for Canadians is $7,000 per person. According to CNBC, healthcare in the US costs more than $10,000 per person. 

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What does this entail for patients, though? Here’s what you’ll want to know about Canadian healthcare before moving to Canada from United States.

Competition in Healthcare and the Private Sector’s Role

Both the US and Canadian healthcare systems involve the private sector but in different ways.

US Healthcare System

In the US, private businesses are the leading healthcare services and insurance suppliers. Insurance companies compete for clients by offering health insurance policies to individuals directly or via insurance policies to businesses as part of employee benefits packages. Healthcare providers frequently compete for patients based on medical specialization, service level, or price.

While it may be limited, individual customers do have some influence in this sector. The services that insurance companies cover may limit people’s options. Other constraints include insurance benefits employers negotiate or the doctors accessible within the insurance company’s network of doctors.

Canadian Healthcare System

Rather than the federal government or individual provinces, private providers deliver most healthcare services in Canada. Consequently, doctors and other medical professionals either run their own personal doctor’s offices independently or are employed by private hospitals or health service management companies. They receive a large portion of their income from billing government health insurance instead of being compensated through claims they submit to private insurers.

The Availability of Health Insurance Coverage and Its Funding

Health insurance is the primary payment method for medical services in the US and Canada. The primary distinction is in the way that health insurance is paid for.

US Healthcare System

The American healthcare system mandates that each person pays for their own health insurance. The only exception is insurance programs that the government offers to people in specified income, age, or disability brackets. This covers initiatives like the Veterans Health Administration, Medicaid, and Medicare.

US health insurance is frequently linked to work, but not generally, with businesses including insurance coverage in the benefits package they provide to their staff. There is no guarantee of coverage, and the kind of protection supplied will differ from employer to employer.

Canadian Healthcare System

Immigration to Canada is popular among Americans, not least because of the Canadian healthcare system. Canada’s federal government offers financial help to provincial governments for health insurance. Albeit only as long as the province complies with the rules outlined in the Canada Health Act (CHA) of 1984.

Through the country’s public health system, this money is used to offer health insurance to all Canadian citizens.

Types of Services That Health Insurance Covers

US and Canadian consumers are concerned about the medical services covered under their national healthcare systems, regardless of how health insurance is paid for. They ultimately have varying access to different healthcare services due to variations in how the plans are funded.

US Healthcare System

Health insurance coverage in the US varies depending on the benefits packages that employers negotiate. It also depends on the policies that individual consumers choose or can afford.

Canadian Healthcare System

Moving to Canada from the States is also common for other reasons. Canada’s universal healthcare system covers all Canadian citizens for services rendered by hospitals, doctors, or surgical and dental services performed in a hospital. Provinces are permitted but not required to offer insurance for additional assistance.

Aside from essential healthcare services, these can include coverage for prescription drugs, home care, long-term care, vision care, dental care, mental health, etc. Dental care is typically paid for in another way, either out-of-pocket or through private insurance, since dentists traditionally don’t work in hospitals.

Providing Primary Care

General practitioners, or primary care doctors, are essential in the US and Canada. Interestingly, there is a scarcity of these crucial medical professionals in both the US and Canada. Many who enter the field of primary care work for themselves or in modestly sized private practices. However, there are variations in how their care is provided.

US Healthcare System

About one-third of all US doctors are primary care doctors. They don’t have a defined gatekeeping role for referring patients to specialists or other healthcare service providers. Although patients are free to choose their doctor, they typically decide based on whether or not that doctor is “in-network” with their health insurance provider.

Usually, physicians are compensated through capitation through private insurers, predetermined fees through public insurance, or negotiated rates with private insurers (or a combination of these). Unless the patient is uninsured and qualifies for waived or reduced fees, patients often pay a portion of the physician’s bill.

Canadian Healthcare System

General practitioners make up about 50% of active physicians in Canada. They primarily serve as the first line of defense for healthcare services, directing patients to specialists when required. Specialists actually get paid less for appointments that aren’t referred.

Patients often have free choice in their primary care physician, while some provinces or territories may have registration restrictions. According to price schedules agreed upon by provincial and territorial ministries of health, physician compensation may occasionally be related to performance, depending on the province. As long as the universal healthcare plan covers medical services, patients are not directly responsible for paying doctors.

While the structure of American and Canadian healthcare systems differ, consumer protection in healthcare is vital in both countries. Each system also seeks to maintain competition in the healthcare sector, understanding that it’s essential for fostering innovation and guaranteeing the public receives high-quality care. Yet, the fact that patients in Canada are covered under the national government funds health insurance is a winning factor.

Do you have questions like, “How do I move to Canada from the United States?” Book a free consultation today and speak with one of UIS Canada’s knowledgeable counselors. We can help you get a visa.