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Senior Advisor

healthcare in canada questions

i belive we have a couple of folks from north of the border on here once in a while, that i'd like to ask about healthcare i canada.


i understand it is a "single payer" type system, but  curious how it works, on a indivual level.


how do you pay for the care, do you have to pay so much each year on a tax, or is it figured in one sales taxes ?  or does

it "appear anywhere" ?


do you have copays, such as office calls, lab tests, put in the hospital ?


on the medications, are all drug stores the same price ?


do they cover such things as walker, wheelchairs, etc (durable medical equipment)


thank you !


18 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

I will answer what I can but we have been fortunate to have good health for the most part so have only had a little actual direct contact with it.


It is as you say a single payer system which reduces the costs to doctors and hospitals because they do not have to negotiate bills or sort out what different patients would have covered since all are the same and they always get paid since the patient does not have to come up with the $$


There is no direct cost to us, just our taxes but no separate billing for health care or 'insurance'.

I understand emplyers pay a % of a wage earners wage as a health care tax but it does not show on income or apply to self employed or retired people like us.

Years ago, and I think it is still legal to do, doctors used to assess a small fee in addition to what the system paid them. A regular checkup would entail a cost of $5 but I think they found that the costs of collecting it were as great or greater than the $5 so for many years any doctor we have gone to has just accepted the systems payment.


A complete physical that i last had about 10 years ago with a new doctor since our old one retired had many tests done to check everything with several vials of blood and 1 test was optional because it was not  covered so I had to pay it or forgo it.


A hospital visit would cost only if you wanted a private room, a ward which as far as i know are only 2 beds in a room is covered.

Want television or a phone you would pay for that otherwise no cost.

Need an ambulance there is a $50 fee, think that is all it costs even if the air ambuance is called to your accident scene.


Medications are not covered except when you are in the hospital.

Insurance is an option, especially as a benefit of a work place.

Over 65 then meds are covered with a small charge per prescription $2 was the charge 10-15 yeqrs ago when I was picking up a prescription for my mother OK that was probably 20 years ago so may have changed.

Over 65 here but have not needed any prescrpitions lately.


Not sure on price between drug stores but they are private businesses so assume they will differ some.


Do not think walkers etc are covered but a number of service clubs make them available for loan if you do not purchase one.

This would be after releas from hospital as hospital provides them while a patient.


If you are disabled and need a wheelchair for example there are government programs that contribute so many $$ each year for necessary items. Do not know details but B-i-L has been in wheelchair after an accident and I know he gets a new one every so often with some kind of government funding. Now has several different styles and ages.

Grants for fixing houses to make them accessible too.

Home care plans to assist where/when needed like B-i-L has help to look after him on a regular basis. Daily or semi daily, not sure but regular.  He is an old guy like me and his wife would not be able to care for him without help.


Have not needed much care through the years so that is the best I can do with answers.

Senior Advisor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

thank you for your responce. is a wee bit different down here. 

i would take it your tax rates are higher, but maybe such things as taxes on oil production, etc, helps offsets the costs.

again, thank you


Senior Contributor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

Yes tax rates are different in many ways as I understand 

Think you can deduct interest on a house mortgage? not so here. Total payment on a house is after tax $ no deduction.

Interest of a business loan is deductible, like on a farm but principle is after tax $

we also have  a VAT tax (value added tax) which is 13% on everything split between province and federal government.


I am talking from Ontario, other provinces are different on VAT with different Provincial rates and Alberta has no Provincial VAt only the federal.


I also should have told you that health care is  a provincial responsibilty so each province will have a slightly different way of doing things and to a small part of what is covered BUT the Federal government gives the provinces a grant toward health care to  guarantee that it is universal across the country so I could be in another province and need care it is covered.


I also asked my wife about wheelchairs and other 'aids' and she says there is a grant system to assist those who need it and  medications that are needed on a long term are covered similar to the seniors i told you of.

Think there is a annual amount you have to pay and then meds and certain supplies are free with the $2 dispensing fee.

These would be things that are prescribed by your doctor.


Health care is a BIG item in Provincial and Federal budgets.

I do not know of any hospitals that are privately owned. Think they are all goverment 'owned' and certainly government funded.

They will have fund raisers for some big equipment items and for a 'down payment' on an addition or upgrade but the majority of the funds for a project will come from the government or at least the approval of it because the government will fund the operation of it after purchase so control things based on needs and use.

Senior Advisor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

Kind of sounds to me like if Medicare was a "public option" in the US available to anyone, it would be a step between what is currently available and a system like Canada has.  It would also be a readily available public alternative to otherwise currently privately available choices, inside or outside of the Obamacare sign-up marketplaces.  And, if Medicare was available to much younger citizens as an insurance option, it is probable that Medicare premiums could be lower.

Re: healthcare in canada questions

Can't do kudos on the forum page so next best thing......👍

Veteran Advisor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

I was talking with a fellow RVer from Canada today. He said that to come to the US, they were required to purchase health insurance, since the Canadian health plan didn't cover them here in the US. I think they said their policy was 2400.00 for the 120 days of their visa. Then, with our dollar so strong, their costs are even more.

Quite spendy for them to get some sun - not a luxury many can probably afford.

Senior Contributor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

And that insurance is to cover the additional costs of care, if needed, in the US.

At least in Ontario, and I think that would be the same across the country, if we needed care while outside the country the plan here will pay for those services at the same rate as in Ontario.

we might have to pay up in the US but would be reimbursed at the rate paid in Ontario.


Insurance will take the hassel out of it and do the paying and get the  Ontario payment to cover some of the cost.


Know a person who had an appendix episode in US.

Something went wrong after operation and he was not getting well enough to get out of hospital.

Insurance flew him home to Ontario to reduce their costs and doctors here were able to get him up and about again.


BTW that insurance would be costing them around $10 per day each and they would have bought it in Canada with Canadian $$, only 75 cents a day in US$.


We are going away for 9 days, not to the US, and have not bought our insurance yet but past experience would say ours will be around that amount. It of course depends on age and any medical issues a person has as well as where you are going.

Last trip to same place cost us around 60 cents a day, we are 2 years older now.

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

The trouble in all of these comparisons is Canada has 38 million people and the US has 320 million people, the US is the big kahuna and for certain countries and areas to get a sweetheart deal on medicine, the US health consumers need to be riped off.   Like on drug costs, old goats a few years ago would make pilgrimages to Canada for cheap presciption drugs...maybe they still do, but drug companies gave Canada a sweetheart deal because they`re a small country and they were able to rip the US consumers off.  If they gave us the sweetheart deal, they`d have to effectively charge both countries MORE.


But a little inside baseball, doctors and hosipitals lose money on medicare patients and alot more on medicaide patients, they make their money on the private insured patients.  Evidence of this is the small rural clinics close or are on the chopping block, because alot of old goat patients on medicare go to those clinics or local meth-head clowns that are on title 19...they can`t stay open with that clientele. 


Those on medicare in this country are getting a sweetheart deal, doctors and hospitals are almost doing pro-bono work in seeing them.  On a nationwide basis "medicare for everyone" wouldn`t be sustainable.

Senior Contributor

Re: healthcare in canada questions

That's cheap! There are people in this country expected by your ex fearless leader that pay that per month.