What International Students Need to Know About Canadian Health Care

Being an international student in Canada is a unique and rewarding experience. Each province carries its own individual characteristics and delivers a warm welcome to anyone who visits. However, an important aspect of studying in another country is being familiar with its health care system.

It’s best to prepare yourself in the event you injure yourself and are in need of medical attention. The Canadian health care system is one of the country’s best features. As opposed to a national plan, Canada has specific provincial and territorial health plans. Here are a few things you should know about Canadian health care before your arrival.

Canadian Health Insurance

The cost of health services and medical treatments in Canada can be expensive. Especially if you don’t have any type of coverage. For instance, to visit a doctor or dentist could cost $100+ depending on the reason.

Without any type of coverage, you must payout-of-pocket meaning you won’t receive a reimbursement for the expense. With proper insurance, you’ll have help with the payment of basic health and medical services, however you may still be expected to pay for part of the service.

Each Canadian province works under its own terms and has health insurance plans specific to its permanent residents. Some international non-residents may be eligible for the health insurance plan, however provinces such as Ontario don’t cover international non-residents.

In this case, they must apply for private health care or UHIP, the University Health Insurance Plan. It’s best to contact the school you are applying to for more information about health insurance.

Private Health Care vs Provincial Health Care

Canada encourages individuals to receive private health insurance in addition to provincial health insurance. This is largely because provincial health insurance may not cover all services such as prescription drugs, glasses and dental costs to name a few. Private health insurance ensures you are covered in most situations.

Emergency Services

If a student is in need of services due to a health emergency, dial 911 to connect to police, ambulance or fire services. If you’re able to get to a hospital nearby without the use of an ambulance, you’ll avoid the fees associated with the services, as not all health insurance plans cover the costs.

All hospitals in Canada have an emergency entrance for individuals seeking urgent medical attention.

Walk-In Clinics

If a student is in need of medical or health services that aren’t urgent, walk-in clinics are typically available on school campuses. If campus health and medical services aren’t open, there are various walk-in clinics available across the country. This is also a great alternative to a student who may not receive a health insurance plan through their host school and doesn’t have a physician.

Walk-in clinics staff experienced doctors who tend to minor injuries and illnesses. Appointments aren’t necessary however, to avoid a long wait, it’s best to arrive early as services are provided on a first-come-first-serve basis.


The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is a mandatory health plan for all international students and workers at participating universities or affiliated colleges in Ontario. UHIP provides coverage for basic health and medical needs while you study or work in Ontario.

The plan isn’t free and is instead included in your tuition and student fees. Students may choose to opt-out of UHIP if they are covered privately.


Provinces in Canada have their own health care systems such as Ontario’s OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan.) There is a difference between province-specific insurance plans and UHIP. For instance, OHIP provides basic health coverage for permanent residents of Ontario and is entirely funded by provincial taxes. UHIP is similar but not the same. It’s similar in that it provides most coverage provided by OHIP but for international students at an Ontario university, however it’s funded through member premiums.

UHIP Eligibility

To be eligible for UHIP you must be one of the following:

  1. An international student studying in Ontario
  2. An international employee working in Ontario
  3. A dependent of the international student
  4. A short-term visitor associated with a participating university
  5. A Canadian employee (or other) satisfying the OHIP waiting period

How to apply for UHIP

Universities and colleges in Ontario will automatically enroll international students for UHIP. This doesn’t include international employees, short-term visitors and dependents. To learn more about how to apply in these situations, you must contact your UHIP Plan Administrator at your university.

For more information on Canada’s healthcare system, click here.

To learn more about Canada’s provincial healthcare, click here.

To find out more on Ontario’s UHIP, click here.

ApplyBoard is here to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions, be sure to visit the FAQ page. Haven’t registered for your international education yet? Click here.

Adrianna Dyczkowsky, Public Relations Specialist at ApplyBoard