Choosing medical insurance in Quebec is not an easy task when you are an expat. There are so many options out there, that can be difficult to find out which one is more suitable for your needs.
Take in mind that the Canadian health care system is widely praised. And if you don’t have public or private insurance, the costs can quickly add up.
For this, it is crucial to be well prepared before leaving your country.
Here you can learn how to find the best health insurance in Quebec to be well covered!
RAMQ: Quebec’s Public Health Insurance
A Locally Managed Medical Insurance in Quebec
There is a national public health system in Canada. But the provinces and territories manage their health programs.
In Quebec, public health insurance is managed by the RAMQ. It issues a card called “Carte Soleil” to the ones affiliated with it.
This public insurance covers routine medical care and basic hospital services. But not dental care (except in hospitals) or optical care.
It protects the insured and their dependents: spouse, minor children, or students up to the age of 25. To receive care, you must systematically present your “Carte Soleil”.
There is specific insurance for prescribed medication. It deducts a part of its price, except in exceptional cases.
Getting Treatment Through Quebec’s Public Health Insurance
A recurring problem in the Quebec health care system is the difficulty in obtaining an appointment or finding a practitioner.
There are not enough specialists, and many general practitioners or family doctors do not take new patients.
It is possible to turn to a “Walk-in-Clinic”. It’s a kind of center with extended hours that receives patients without an appointment. But the waiting time can be long.
It is sometimes easier to get an appointment in a private clinic or with a practitioner who does not accept the Carte Soleil. In these cases, the care will not be reimbursed.
Health care in Quebec is of very high quality. The cost of care varies depending on the sector of practice and the practitioner.
But overall, it is higher than in most European countries. And even more so in private practice.
You will have to count approximately:
- 100$ to see a general practitioner or a family doctor
- 200 or 250$ for a specialist
- 1.500$ for a day of hospitalization (3000$ in case of surgery)
- Dental care is also very expensive: $200 for scaling.
All this explains why many residents choose to take out private health insurance in Quebec. Even when they are subscribed to the RAMQ plan.
Best Health Insurance in Quebec for Expatriates
Who Can Benefit From the RAMQ System?
There are agreements between Quebec and some countries that give expatriates access to this insurance system.
These agreements are valid for students, trainees, employees, retirees, and all permanent residents.
It’s not the case of seconded workers, who usually keep their affiliation to their national system.
PVT (Vacation Work Permit) holders are also excluded from the RAMQ system. They are required to take out medical insurance in Quebec with hospitalization and repatriation coverage.
Why Purchase Private Medical Insurance in Quebec?
The purchase of private medical insurance in Quebec is highly recommended. Even with the RAMQ.
They offer a type of coverage that is more adapted to the problems that expatriates face.
You will not be restricted to a single country. But the policy will also be valid during your stays in other countries. Especially when you visit your home country.
It’s common that they also offer repatriation and evacuation services. An operation that is as expensive as essential. Other coverages they can provide are:
- All the services not offered by the RAMQ: dental, optical, examinations, and care received outside the public sector or from practitioners who don’t accept the “Carte Soleil”
- The deductible for prescribed drugs.
Finally, private insurance in Quebec also allows you to benefit from partner health care networks: They offer insureds easier and optimal coverage in terms of rates and times.
Choosing Your Medical Insurance in Quebec
Social Security for Expatriates
In some cases, an expat can remain affiliated to the Social Security in his country of origin.
This is an interesting solution. Especially in the case of pre-existing medical conditions, since there is no mandatory medical questionnaire.
Social Security might offer a contract that covers you worldwide. And also another one that covers only the care received in France, in case you are already covered by the local system.
But in any case, the Social Security offer remains insufficient as standalone medical insurance in Quebec.
Because it only offers basic guarantees and does not offer repatriation.
Also, its reimbursements are based on the price of care in your country. Which are not at the level of the health rates in Quebec.
It is therefore necessary to subscribe to a complimentary insurance plan with another company. It will add more costs and make the management a bit more complicated.
Private Health Insurance in Quebec With the 1st Dollar Policies
Another medical insurance in Quebec for expatriates is the subscription to an international policy called “1st dollar”.
It allows you to be covered for your actual expenses from the first dollar spent on your health care costs.
These contracts are offered in many formulas that are more or less protective and are very flexible.
It is possible to add coverage according to one’s needs (in and out of the medical field). This generally gives this type of insurance an excellent quality/price ratio.
However, there is a compulsory medical questionnaire. And it can lead to exclusions of coverage or increased premiums.
This is the main flaw of this type of private medical insurance in Quebec.
Anyways, the high competition often allows you to find a suitable offer that fits your budget