One of the most important things while planning to move to Canada, other than free education for our kids till grade 12, we hear is FREE Health Care. So I am going to explain in this blog about my experience with Alberta Heath Care for past one year.

While in Ontario the new residents have three months waiting period to apply for the health insurance, Alberta has none. The new residents can apply for health insurance immediately after landing. So we did the same and in about a month we received the health cards.

After getting health card the first thing that needs to be done is visit a nearby clinic and register for a family doctor. Once the registration is complete which is immediate, you can book an appointment with the doctor and go for full body checkup for your entire family which is free of cost. As we had got that done a few months before registering with the clinic, we waited for about a year to get that done. Now your family doctor is your first single point of contact for all your medical consultations. If s/he feels that there are any lab tests / blood work required to be done, s/he would refer you to a diagnostic center. S/he may refer you to another specialist doctor, if required. All this is free of cost. You don’t have to pay even a single penny.

Now comes the hard part. Most probably, to see a specialist, you may have to wait anywhere between 1 month to 6 months as there is a long wait list to see any specialist in Canada. This period could be reduced in some cases based on the urgency but unless it is really urgent, which is very subjective, you’ll have to wait that long. But obviously, you won’t have to pay any consultation fee and in case of hospitalization also, most of the basic expenses are covered except medicines.

Medicines are very-very costly compared to what you have been paying in your home country. In many cases, your family doctor would ask you whether you have any medical insurance because buying a few medicines could cost you dearly. For example, a benzoyl peroxide acne cream was about $160 and related face wash was for about $100. Other basic medicines too are quite costly. For example, a regular over the counter pain relief medicine would cost you about $7 for 30-40 tablets. Other medicines are generally 10 to 20 times costly (using currency conversion) compared to what you are used to buying in your home country. Dental procedures too are very costly and it could cost somewhere between $1500 to $2000 for a tooth’s root canal.

Regarding medical insurance, I recently checked here for my family. It was costing around $160 per month for a family of 3 and it gives you about 70% discount on the medicines plus some other benefits. You can go through the above link and see the details.

So in summary, there are some advantages and disadvantages and the purpose of my this blog is to make everyone aware about the ground reality rather than believing on the blanket statement usually we hear that we have free health care in Canada, which is actually not entirely true and it makes people assume so many things.

Take care!!

4 thoughts on “My experience so far with medical / health care in Canada

  1. Very informative post. Thanks.

    I have few queries :
    1. The wait time you mentioned, who decides the wait time?
    2. Can we bring basic medicines (tablets for cold fever, cream and all) from India when we land in Canada? Do we need prescription?
    3. Regarding free education? Is that any catch in that too? Like wait time or anything?
    4. Free health care applies to all province?
    5. If I get PR and come to Canada and sponsor my wife and get her to Canada, will she get free health benefits?


    1. 1) I don’t know who decides the wait time but in my opinion, it is first come first serve basis unless there is a real emergency. There is a long queue of people waiting and the resources are less and this kept that way intentionally to optimize the resources by providing the service to the most needy first
      2) Yes you can bring medicines say for a couple of months but keep prescription handy.
      3) There is no catch that I am aware of in free education
      4) Yes
      5) Once she becomes PR then yes.


  2. Hi Alok,

    All your posts are really very detailed and informative. Thank you for taking out time and writing detailed blogs, which are really very helpful for people like me, who are aspiring for Canadian PR.

    I had a doubt whether I should migrate at the age of 38, and then saw in one of your posts that you also migrated at a similar age. This inspired me, and now I am preparing myself for applying.

    I have a question regarding prescription drugs. If I take any medicine that requires a prescription, then do I need to get a new prescription in Canada or the one from India will work?

    I am asking this, since you mentioned that wait times are huge and I might run out of medicines before I can get an appointment from a specialist.

    Thanks in advance.


    1. I am glad that you liked my posts Vivek. For the medications that you carry with you while travelling need prescriptions from India. Once you arrive in Canada and have your health card made, you can register yourself and your family with a nearby medical clinic. All they need is your health card info. This is fairly simple process and there’s no wait time. Then you can consult a physician there and let him / her know about the medicines you were taking. Those physicians should be able to prescribe same medicines which you can buy at any Pharmacy nearby. The long wait times are only with specialists.


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