I have assembled this guide to help you as a new Canadian immigrant to maximize the usage of the Health Care System in your new home. Read how as a new Canadian Immigrant and Health Care should not be a complicated concept.
One thing you need to know is, that Canada has Public Health Care system, which allows access to health care to all residents, irrespective of financial status. This may be something new for many people. It was new for me. Having moved from Saudi Arabia, where walking into a hospital with my insurance card and Akama meant that I can see a doctor promptly. In Canada, I need to schedule and plan health care, very different from Saudi Arabia.
So let’s get started…
1. Immediately apply for your Health Card.
As a new immigrant, depending on where you are in Canada, your Health Card processing and coverage date will differ. Check for each province individually. Please make sure before you arrive to Canada, to have an understanding of which province you want to settle in. In Ontario, the Health Card coverage starts after 3 months. Be sure to buy private healthcare in such a situation. Otherwise, one trip to Emergency would cost you minimum CAD $500.00.
2. Book a Meet and Greet with a Family Doctor.
Even if you don’t need to see a doctor, book a Meet and Greet with a Family Doctor for all of your family members. Preferably do this after your Health Card Coverage has started. In the Meet and Greet, ask for a Full Medical Checkup. This will include taking your medical history, and running tests.
3. Get complete blood work and tests done locally.
Even if you had tests done back home before coming to Canada, have them repeated in the local lab. This will ensure that your Family Doctor has all the latest results for your family.
4. Request Referral to a Specialist Doctor for pre-existing condition.
If you have a pre-existing condition, ask for a referral for a Specialist Doctor. Unlike other countries, you cannot always see a Specialist directly. Depending on your condition, you may have to wait for a while before being accomodated.
However, if you have an urgent health condition, you should go to the Emergency in the nearest Hospital.
Your family doctor can also assess your condition by running tests, and prescribing medication.
5. Decide on a Pharmacy close and convenient for you.
Deciding on a Pharmacy also pays a key role in helping your health care. Factors like ease of access and maybe home delivery, would interest you. Also, advise your clinic of your Pharmacy. This allows them to fax any medication refills directly to the Pharmacy, without you having to go to the clinic always.
6. Ask your Doctor for information on how to setup your online profile, if available.
Many provinces, like Alberta, have the option to setup an online profile which will show medical information relevant to you. I found it helpful for tracking my kid’s vaccinations, through the online profile. Similarly, many of our test results were also available. Your Family Doctor will be able to give you information on this.
7. Utilize the Health Link 811.
Now, due to COVID, more than ever before, rely on the Health Link 811. Simply call the number ‘811’ anywhere in Canada and talk with a nurse. The nurse will be able to give you advice and suggestions, and even guide you to the nearest doctor for quick access.
I hope that the above Guide will make understanding Canadian Health Care easier. Let me know if you want me to talk about other topics as New Immigrant.
You can find information directly from the Canadian Government on the link here.
Disclaimer: This post is based on my experience, and is NOT Medical Advice. Also, do share your own experience in comments below, so as to help the other readers.