In 2018, the average Canadian family spent an estimated $13,000 for public health care. That represents a whopping 70% increase from 1997!
The thing is, Canadians spend a lot more on medications than they do on hospitals or doctors. In fact, experts say it's the fastest growing aspect of healthcare expenditures -- growing at a 4.2% rate in 2018. But the public healthcare system doesn't pay for prescriptions.
That said, it's no wonder more Canadians now own private health insurance. And more are looking for private health insurance quotes. It’s time you do the same thing.
The question is, why should you even consider getting private health insurance? Where can you even get quotes for health insurance?
All these and more, we'll cover in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
A Quick Overview on Public Health Insurance in Canada
Canada's public health insurance is among the top 10 in developed countries. Imagine, its residents have free or very low-cost access to medically-required services. But it’s not actually free, as people’s taxes pay for this publicly-funded health insurance system.
This government-funded insurance program is the Canada Health Act. With this, you have fewer healthcare costs to worry about. Plus, it's not only for Canadian citizens -- even permanent residents can enjoy its benefits.
What exactly the insurance covers depends on which province you live in. They also go by different names.
For instance, Alberta residents have the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). In British Columbia, they have the Medical Services Plan (MSP). In Ontario, they have the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
But all these plans share a common factor -- they only pay for medically-required services. But that still includes check-ups with accredited physicians, dentists, and surgeons. It also covers oral surgeries in hospitals, medically-required eye exams, and even orthodontics.
Some types of laboratory services, like x-rays, also get coverage with the public plan. If you have an "upgraded" plan, you may also get coverage for chiropractic care. These "premium" plans also cover physical therapy and acupuncture.
Why Get Private Health Insurance if There’s Free Insurance?
For the simple reason that the public health plan doesn't cover everything. If the medical or dental service you need isn't "medically-required", you have to pay out of pocket. These include routine physical exams and restorative dental care like fillings and crowns.
One more thing, which is actually the biggest caveat: prescription drugs aren't covered.
So, if you're on any prescription medication, you have to pay out of pocket to buy them. That's a lot, considering that the average 2017 spending on drugs was at $1,086 per person. It’s because of this that in 2016, over 731,000 Canadians had to borrow money to buy their meds!
So, if you have a family of four, that can mean yearly spending of more than $4,000 for prescription drugs alone. That should be enough reason for you to get private health insurance in Canada.
With this, you can get coverage for some of your family’s prescription medicines. You also have to pay less to get a private room if someone in your household needs hospitalization. There are also private health insurance plans with dental coverage!
In short, having a private health plan can bridge that gap left by public health insurance. With this, you don't have to worry about where to get the money if your toddler gets sick. You'll also pay less for preventative and even dental restorative services.
All in all, private health insurance can help keep your entire family's health in check, for less.
Finding the Best Plan: Know What Affects Your Premiums First
To get the best health insurance Canada has to offer, it pays to know the factors that can affect your premiums. Some of the main ones used by insurers include the following:
In 2018, about 5 million Canadians smoked tobacco daily or on occasion. If you or anyone in your family is part of this group, expect to pay more for health insurance.
After all, tobacco use increases the risk of heart diseases and some types of cancers. It also contributes to respiratory issues and in women, menstrual and fertility problems. Even non-smokers who live with a smoker are at risk of such health conditions.
Body Mass Index
People who have a high body mass index often pay higher health insurance premiums. That's because a high BMI increases one's risks of diabetes and heart problems. Weaker joints and sleep issues are also common among people with high BMI.
As with life insurance in Canada, the younger you are, the less you pay for health insurance. For starters, because younger folks develop fewer health conditions than older people. That means they're less likely to seek medical help or need prescription medications.
Pre-Existing Health Conditions
These include heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, and cancer to name a few. Insurers charge higher premiums for health insurance applicants who have these conditions. Some insurance companies even reject applicants with these health problems.
This doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get rejected if you have a pre-existing condition. You can still qualify, but the insurer may not cover costs related to your condition. That’s why you should explore all your options before deciding on a health plan.
Checking Your and Your Family's Eligibility
You or someone in your household may not be eligible for all private insurance plans. Especially if there are the above-mentioned risk factors involved.
Luckily, many of Canada's top health insurance providers offer guaranteed acceptance. They still base premiums on medical history, but at least, your entire family can get covered.
It also pays to talk to the issuer of your employer-provided health insurance. It may be easier for you to get supplemental coverage for your family through the same provider. Plus, getting your plans from the same provider is one way to get the cheapest health insurance in Canada.
If you're switching jobs or about to retire, talk to your employer's insurance company too. You may get guaranteed coverage from them if you apply before you lose your current coverage. Insurers set time limits on this though, often 60 days before you lose your group plan benefits.
Compare Plan Coverage Before Deciding
Your chosen private health plan should help you cut your out-of-pocket healthcare spending. But plans differ in what they cover and how much they would cover you for. So, be sure to conduct a thorough health insurance comparison for each plan before you decide!
That said, factor in your family's greatest needs, such as prescription medications. Another consideration is if someone in your household is more prone to hospitalization. In this case, your plan should give you more choices and coverage for hospital rooms.
Make sure you also consider your family's travel habits. If you travel often, your insurance should cover medical services outside the country.
You should also compare coverage for medical equipment and vision correction. Many plans cover the cost of buying eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Costs Above the Monthly Premiums
Aside from monthly premiums, health insurers also often charge deductibles and copayments. These are the extra charges you'll pay for before your health plan starts covering you.
A deductible is an amount you need to pay for services before your coverage kicks in. For instance, your plan has a $300 deductible for hospitalization. You need to pay for that entire amount first before your insurance covers the rest.
Whereas copayment is your out-of-pocket share for certain healthcare services. For example, your plan has a $25 copayment for a dental check-up. In this case, you need to pay that amount every time you pay your dentist a visit.
Look at the Total Annual Limits
All health insurance plans come with maximums or limits. These refer to the highest amount the plan will cover every year. If you go beyond this amount, you'll need to pay for the excess using your own money.
For example, your chosen health plan has a limit of $2,000 for medical equipment. This means that within a year, it'll pay for medical equipment purchases up to that amount. If you need to buy equipment worth $2,500, you have to pay the remaining $500 out of pocket.
This said, be sure to consider your family's greatest needs when choosing a health plan. If you think you need more coverage for prescription medicines, then get a plan that has a high limit for that. If your child wears eyeglasses, choose a plan with a higher limit for medical supplies.
Get Health Insurance Quotes from Canada’s Top Providers Now
Now that you know how to choose a private health insurance plan, it's best to start comparing quotes ASAP. Remember, the younger or the healthier you are, the cheaper health insurance can be.
So, where do you get health insurance quotes from Canada's best providers? Right here! Get your quotes now so you can start comparing your top health insurance options!