Health Care

Finding Health Care in Canada can be a daunting task. Read on for suggestions and tips in getting the best health care available. 


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The ABCs of the AHCIP

the alberta health care Insurance Plan (ahcIP) covers the majority of medically necessary procedures and services from physicians, hospitals and laboratories. on January 1, 2009, ahcIP removed the monthly premiums previously charged to alberta residents. With this change have come changes in coverage. For example, partial chiropractic treatment coverage is no longer available, but midwifery care is now funded.

like many provinces, alberta has been experiencing a shortage of qualified health-care workers. recent population growth in the province has further stressed the system, resulting in excessive wait times and an increase in the number of albertans without a family doctor. however, in fall 2009, the government established the Minister’s advisory committee on health to strengthen legislation in aid of improving the system, including broadening access to health-care services, promoting wellness and encouraging the use of emerging technologies to treat patients.

In 2009/2010, 35 per cent of alberta’s government spending will be allocated to health and wellness. there will be a $122 million increase in spending on ground ambulance services (calgary and edmonton typically experience ambulance availability shortages during peak periods each month). Increased spending will also focus on assisting low-income seniors and attracting more front-line workers to alberta.

Accessing AHCiP
If moving to alberta from within canada, you’re eligible for ahcIP coverage on the first day of the third month after arriving here – until then, your previous provincial plan should cover you. If you’re moving from outside canada, and are a canadian citizen or legal permanent resident, you’re immediately eligible.

In both cases, you need to apply within three months of arriving, with proof you’re an alberta resident. obtain an application from alberta health and Wellness (780-427-1432; health.alberta.ca) or from your employer’s human resources office. you can register for ahcIP by visiting an alberta registry agent location; see servicealberta.ca for locations.

Understanding AHCiP’s Limits ahcIP doesn’t cover everything. Some services, like vision and podiatrist care, are only partially covered. others aren’t covered at all, including ambulance services, prescriptions, routine dental and chiropractic care, and medical costs incurred outside canada. Protect yourself against these potential expenses via private health insurance, offered by many employers as part of their benefits package.

For those without such coverage, the province works with alberta blue cross – check which of its plans you’d qualify for at ab.bluecross.ca or call 1-800-394-1965. you can also compare plans with those offered through other organizations, like membership-based associations, or contact an insurance broker.

Finding Health Care Services
It can be difficult to find a family doctor, but alberta health Services makes it easier by offering lists of doctors accepting new patients, available at albertahealthservices.ca. the college of Physicians and Surgeons of alberta also has a searchable directory at cpsa.ab.ca. Friends, family and colleagues may also be able to help – let them know you’re looking.

Whether or not you have a family physician, you always have access to medical care: Walk-in clinics offer extended hours and require no appointments. Some community health centres offer urgent care assistance (for broken bones, for example), and hospital emergency rooms are generally open 24 hours (be prepared for wait times of at least an hour and usually longer). For ambulance service, call 911.

If you need health advice, you can also call health link alberta, a telephone service staffed 24 hours a day by registered nurses (1-866-408-5465; 403-943-5465 in calgary; 780-408-5465 in edmonton). health link’s website, healthlinkalberta.ca, offers excellent information, too. MTA