When relocating to Canada, it is necessary to learn about the healthcare system, as it will probably be different from the country you are coming from. The RAMQ – the Quebec Health Insurance Board (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec in French) – is the public office that maintains the Quebec healthcare system, offered free of charge, to citizens, residents, and landed immigrants of Quebec.
Although Quebec offers a free healthcare system, you can take out private coverage. If you want to do this, it is best done within 5 days of arriving in Quebec so as to avoid difficulties in obtaining coverage. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. is a good way to go about this, as they offer an extensive list of private insurers, and can assist you in finding the right company and policy to suit your needs.
Quebec Health Insurance Plan
Under the Medical Insurance Act, all residents of Quebec are eligible for the Health Insurance Plan, which covers any medical care that is essential as decided by a general practitioner. This means that things such as examinations, consultations, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, surgery, radiology, anesthesia, and psychiatric treatments are all covered. You should be aware that only medical practitioners practicing under the Quebec healthcare plan will have their costs covered by the healthcare system – if they are not, the visit will be at your expense (or may covered by private insurance coverage if you have taken it out).
Health Insurance Card’s in Quebec
The RAMQ issues a Health Insurance Card, for those covered by the province’s healthcare plan, which gives the holder access to healthcare services that are covered. Each family member must obtain their own health insurance card, as it contains a photograph of the cardholder, a unique health insurance number, name, date of birth, expiry date, and cardholder’s signature.
You must register for the Health Insurance Card and Insurance Plan upon arrival to Quebec. The sooner the better as you must wait for the RAMQ to process your application and mail you a letter indicating the date on which your Health Insurance Plan will become valid. Two weeks after this date you will receive your card.During this waiting period, aside from a few exceptions, most healthcare costs will not be reimbursed, and this is why private health coverage is recommended for new immigrants.
For more information on how to register, see RAMQ Quebec healthcare registration.
We also have an article on Health Care Services in Quebec and a more in-depth article on the RAMQ Health Insurance Card.
If you’re moving (or have already moved) to Quebec, be sure to check out our Online Relocation Guide for Montreal, featuring 20 chapters of essential facts, links and advice for getting acquainted with the local ways, customs and procedures, covering healthcare, housing, schooling, transportation and much more. We promise to save you time, save you money, and help you avoid the most common mistakes.
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