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Complete guide to getting health insurance for Canadian citizens living abroad

Canada is one of the countries with the best healthcare system globally. So, as a Canadian citizen, you may have been accustomed to receiving healthcare easily and without high costs. However, every country has a different healthcare scheme, and as a Canadian citizen who lives abroad, you need to make sure that you are equipped with the best health insurance program. 

Do Canadian Citizens Living Abroad Need Health Insurance?

All expats— including Canadian expats— need health insurance when living abroad. Depending on the country they move to, Canadian expats have the option to:

  • Enroll in a state-funded healthcare system and receive public health insurance.
  • Purchase private health insurance. 

Many expats prefer the latter option, to avoid possible obstacles with public health systems, such as the language barrier and long waiting times to see a specialist. Canadian expats who are simply going abroad for a vacation or temporarily, can just get travel health insurance for expats.

Canadian Expat Health Insurance in the USA

Here are a few options of how you can get health insurance in the US as a Canadian expat: 

  • Employer-based health insurance. Most employees in the US have health insurance provided by their employer. So, if you have found a job in the US, you’ll most likely be covered by your company’s policy, which usually allows you to include your partner and children. 
  • Private health insurance. If your employer does not insure you, you have to buy your health insurance plan yourself. You can choose any plan that meets your medical needs, even with pre-existing conditions. 
  • U.S. medicare. You can qualify for Medicare if you are a Canadian expat in the US, even if you don’t have a Green Card if you or your spouse has worked in the US for ten years or more. But, keep in mind that to qualify for Medicare, you have to be 65 years of age. 
  • International health insurance. If you don’t want to buy a private insurance plan in the US, you can also opt for global coverage. International health insurance policies cover you year-round in one country and customize your plan based on your requirements. On average, the annual cost of international health insurance goes between US$5,000 to US$10,000 per person. 

To help you choose the best insurance plan, you can use comparative marketplaces like Insubuy or International Citizens Insurance and review different plans that cater to Canadian expats. 

Health Insurance For Canadian Students In The USA

If you’re a Canadian student in the US, your health insurance options are as follows: 

  • Coordinate with your educational provider. Most schools have mandatory or optional US health insurance plans for international students. So, check with your university and see what plans they offer and whether you can get a waiver if the plan doesn’t suit your needs. 
  • Purchase an international policy. Because healthcare in the US is expensive, and medical services can cost too much for students, one of the best options is buying an international health insurance scheme to cover you while studying in the US. With an insurance plan, you can get medical coverage for a specific amount of money and buy an affordable premium, plus you can tailor the plan to your needs. 
  • Keep using your Canadian health insurance. If you are studying in the US short-term, you may still be covered by your province’s health insurance plan. In most cases, to be eligible for health insurance coverage outside Canada, you must spend at least 183 days out of the year in Canada. Keep in mind that in this case, coverage options vary from province to province, and you’ll usually only be covered for emergencies.

Health Insurance for Canadian Tourists in the US

If you’re planning to stay in the US short-term as a tourist, consider purchasing US travel insurance for visitors. You can get medical coverage for emergencies, repatriation, and baggage coverage with a travel insurance policy. But, before buying your plan, check whether the insurance policy from your province will cover you for the short trip. 

Cost of Health Insurance for Canadian Expats

The cost of health insurance for Canadian expats can range between hundreds to several thousands of dollars. However, insurance costs vary greatly on several factors, such as what kind of insurance you want, how much medical coverage you want, and how long you purchase your policy.

Finding the best price for your health insurance can be difficult, and sometimes you may buy benefits with your policy that you don’t need. This is why you should use comparison tools like Insubuy or International Citizens Insurance to compare different insurance plans, their prices, and extra benefits. 

Can’t I Use My Canadian Insurance?

In most cases, you can’t use your Canadian insurance while you are abroad— even if you can, your coverage is limited only to emergencies. Additionally, your Canadian insurance covers you abroad only if you’ve fulfilled the living requirements in Canada. For example, if you live in the country for more than 183 days during 12 months, you can use your health insurance abroad (for limited coverage). But, the 183 days condition changes depending on which province in Canada you live in, and in some regions, you may be required to live for more or less than 183 days. This is why you must purchase an international health insurance policy or enroll in the health insurance policy of your new country if you can.

Benefits of Health Insurance for Canadian Expats 

Having health insurance as an expat while outside Canada comes with several benefits. Firstly, you’re covered for most medical situations, saving you from paying large amounts of money for medical care. Secondly, you can get access to private hospitals and experience shorter waiting times plus you can get care from English-speaking providers. 

Best Health Insurance for Canadian Expats 

There are several international insurance plans for Canadian expats, some of which include the following: 

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