Public and Private Insurance


Publicly insured services

The Canada Health Act establishes that all Canadians have a right to “basic” hospitalization and medical services. The definition of “basic” varies, however, across thirteen provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

Health care in Canada is provided under a public funding, private delivery model. Most doctors — both general practitioners and specialists — work on a fee-for-service basis. Most of their fees and basic charges for hospitalization are prepaid under provincial and territorial health plans. 

Some provinces fund medical care entirely from general revenues. Others levy premiums that cover all or part of the cost. Dental care for the general population is not publicly supported anywhere in Canada.

Privately insured services

The range of services covered under public plans — physiotherapy, eye exams, dental care, dental surgery, diagnostic tests, home health care and ambulance transportation — vary from province to province to territory. 

Most Canadians are members of groups that provide supplementary medical coverage that picks up where their public insurance plan leaves off. Many others purchase such coverage privately. Federal public servants, members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, federal judges and parliamentarians are covered by the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) and most continue this coverage in retirement. Federal retirees and their survivors may also opt in to the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan (PDSP).