Health Insurance

Health Insurance

The Canada Health Act (CHA or the Act) is Canada’s federal legislation for publicly funded health care insurance.

The Act sets out the primary objective of Canadian health care policy, which is “to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.”

The CHA establishes criteria and conditions related to insured health services and extended health care services that the provinces and territories must fulfill to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).

The aim of the CHA is to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to insured health services on a prepaid basis, without direct charges at the point of service for such services.

In Canada the Canada Health Act, contains five key principles:

universality – assuring full health care coverage for all legal residents;
comprehensiveness – covering all medically-necessary hospital and physician services;
accessibility – providing reasonable access to hospital and physician care, without financial barriers or discrimination on the basis of income, age or health status;
portability – ensuring coverage when residents are absent from home or moving from one part of the country to another; and,
public administration – on a non-profit basis, by a public authority responsible to a provincial government.
The federal government is responsible for setting and administering these principles.

Canada’s health system is not a government monolith. Health funds are autonomously administered by the 10 provincial and three territorial governments.

Each jurisdiction has the flexibility to invest in health and health care delivery as it sees fit. Canada’s health insurance system is national in the sense that all provincial and territorial hospital and medical insurance plans are linked to their compliance with the national principles set out in the Canada Health Act.

Funds to help finance provincial and territorial health systems are transferred from the federal government through the Canada Health and Social Transfer, a form of block funding.