No one ever intends to get ill while studying, travelling, or living abroad, but the wise always plan ahead by trying to understand the healthcare system of a country they plan to travel to. Canada is no exception.

Currently, Canada’s health care system has been ranked among the best in the world. Although not perfect, it has great medical benefits for those who qualify.

Most visitors and immigrants may opt for private insurance for the short duration they are in Canada, while immigrants may opt to apply for provincial health insurance coverage.

If you are travelling to Ontario, getting private medical insurance in Toronto is not such a bad idea as it would shield you from major expenses in case of an accident or sickness.

Toronto is a city within the province of Ontario. Therefore, when migrating to Toronto and opting for provincial health care, you must apply for OHIP, which stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Who Qualifies for OHIP

To be eligible for OHIP, a person must meet all the minimum requirements and at least one among the accompanying essentials.

Any Canadian citizen with a valid ID that proves their citizenship can apply for OHIP. Landed immigrants who can prove their permanent residency also qualify for OHIP.

Permanent residency can be proved in several ways (depending on your situation). That includes:

  • Having a valid permanent resident card (PR)
  • Confirmation of permanent residency through immigration forms IMM5292 or IMM5698
  • Record of landing IMM 1000

Immigrants applying for OHIP can show either of the above as proof of permanent residency, which is a requirement in qualifying for OHIP.

If your case is out of the above scope, you can always get a written letter from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to show that you are eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Registered Indians, protected persons, some accompanying family members, and a section of temporary foreign workers also qualify for OHIP.

Once you make the application for OHIP successfully, there is a waiting period of about three months before you receive the health card that signifies you are now covered by OHIP.

Before OHIP Becomes Active

If you happen to have already applied for OHIP and you are waiting for your health card, it is best to acquire some

Ontario Blue Cross
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form of temporary private insurance up until you receive your health card.

Unexpected illness or a medical emergency situation can cost a pretty penny if it happens before your OHIP has been processed.

To help you mitigate this situation, temporary private medical coverage is the best solution to keep you protected up until you receive your health card.

There are numerous Toronto health insurance companies such as Ontario Blue Cross, that provide a temporary medical insurance plan to cover any emergency cost before your OHIP cover starts.

Private Health Insurance in Toronto

Today, there are numerous health insurance companies in Toronto that can help you secure a private health plan for the interim or for the long haul. Both permanent and temporary residents stand to benefit from this arrangement.

Remember, OHIP only provides very basic medical and emergency services. That includes:

  • Diagnostic services such as blood tests, X-rays, and other lab procedures as authorized by OHIP
  • Basic medical essential services performed in a hospital
  • Dental and oral surgeries performed in a hospital as an emergency

Persons under 20 or over 64 years of age are entitled to eye exams. Also, those over 64 years of age have access to some prescription medication.

Nevertheless, as great as OHIP is, it does not cover everything, and this is where Torontonians look for supplementary private health coverage to come up with a comprehensive medical plan that is customized to suit their health needs.

Like most products in a free market, private insurance plans vary based on quality and price and mostly cover things like:

  • Prescription drugs from pharmacies if you are below 64 years old
  • Emergency medical needs when traveling abroad
  • Routine dental checkups and corrective dental treatment (unless you are on social assistance)
  • Ambulance service outside of Ontario
  • Eye care and prescription medicine for persons above 21 and below 65 years
  • Alternative medicine consultation and treatment
  • Chiropractic services
  • Cosmetic procedures

Note that OHIP does not cover any of the services we’ve just mentioned, except in cases like dental services, eye tests, physiotherapy, and specialty medical care outside Toronto, where the plan can pay part of the cost.  

Here are the types of coverage you’ll find from most private insurers:

  • Family
  • Single Parent (separate plan for Father and Mother)
  • Individual Male
  • Individual Female

Depending on what your medical needs are, augmenting your OHIP coverage with a private one that covers personal medical areas of concern or interest is a good idea.

Health insurance companies in Toronto do a great job of bridging the gap between what is covered in OHIP and what is not by availing of what they don’t cover.

One Toronto company,Surehealth provides coverage that includes health, dental, prescription drugs, vision care, and emergency medical travel coverage

This is just an example that serves to illustrate that although you may already have OHIP, an additional cover such as the one above works out even better as it includes vision care and dental as well as some travel cover in case of an emergency abroad.

Some of the ways you can find the right insurance company for your needs include:

  • Using insurance finders, like OmbudService.
  • Looking online
  • Enlisting the help of insurance brokers


Medical insurance in Toronto is fairly straightforward. If you are eligible for OHIP,  apply at the earliest opportunity. In the interim, some form of private medical insurance is recommended and will serve you well in case of an emergency. Where in doubt of your OHIP eligibility, you can always seek clarification from Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada.