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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Health Care in Toronto - Moving To Magazines

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care in Toronto

For some, getting health insurance in Ontario is a frustrating process of multiple phone calls and trips to the Ministry of Health. For those who come prepared, approval can be headache-free. Consider these two scenarios. Robert Stevens moved to Ontario from a different country to work at Microsoft. Unlike those moving within Canada, Robert and his family didn't have health coverage during the three-month waiting period before they were eligible to apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). When their son needed hospital care, they ended up with a $400 bill. When the waiting period was up, Robert's wife, Jo-Anne, visited the local Ministry of Health office to apply for OHIP. She soon became frustrated. After about three trips, we finally found out we needed Rob's work permit and a letter from his employer stating his job was permanent. As well, we needed permits for me and our two sons.

For Dr. Wahbi Hammouda, a hematologist at Sunnybrook hospital, the process was much smoother. He moved from Quebec to Ontario, and during the three-month waiting period before he could apply for his card, he went on the Ministry of Health website to familiarize himself with OHIP application process downloaded and filled out the application, found out what documentation he needed, and where the nearest office was. I brought a utility bill showing that I had been living in Ontario for three months and I had my drivers license and passport with me. I was given a temporary paper as proof I was covered under OHIP and about two weeks later, I received the card in the mail.

OHIP MADE EASY
Whether you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, landed immigrant, refugee or status Indian, after living in Ontario for three months, you‚ are likely entitled to an OHIP card. To make it easy, familiarize yourself with the process ahead of time.

The Ministry of Health requires you to provide three pieces of original documentation:

1. Proof you are a Canadian citizen or that you hold another status qualifying you for Ontario health insurance coverage, such as confirmation of permanent residence.

2. Proof you are a permanent resident in Ontario, such as bank statements or a utility bill featuring your new address.

3. A document with both your name and signature, like a credit card.

If you have children under 15, you need to apply for their health coverage as well. You can do so while applying for your own, and your children don't need to be with you. Just as for yourself, you will need to provide three original documents per child. The document showing their citizenship or status as, for example, a permanent resident must be in their name, but the other two documents can be in the name of the parent registering them. Children over 15 must register in person because they'll have a photo and signature on their OHIP card. These children will need all three original documents to be in their name.

You may be asked for additional documentation, so it's a good idea to bring more than you may need. For a list of accepted documentation and to find the nearest office, visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website at www.health.gov.on.ca. If you are still unsure about what you need to bring with you or don't have the proper documentation, call the Ministry's information line at 1-800-664-8988.

WHAT ARE YOU COVERED FOR?
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers everyday services, including routine medical care, annual checkups, recommended vaccinations, standard lab tests, emergency room visits, hospital stays and use of hospital clinics.

Although there are no additional fees for basic services, not all services are provided without cost. Each province has the discretion to select what is considered an essential service. For example, in Ontario, doctors may charge for missed appointments, physical examinations required for jobs, extra paperwork such as transferring files, and other administrative fees.

While OHIP covers a wide range of health services, it only pays for those that are medically necessary. This excludes services like cosmetic surgery and laser eye surgery for vision correction. As well, yearly routine eye exams are only covered by OHIP for persons under 20 and over 65. For people aged 20 to 64, OHIP covers a major eye examination once every 12 months provided the person has a medical condition, like glaucoma, that requires regular examinations. Physiotherapy services may not be covered unless administered in hospital. Chiropractic services are not covered at all. Ambulance services are also not automatically covered. Prescription drugs are covered only when they're dispensed in hospitals.

During hospital stays, OHIP pays for a standard, four-bed room. If you prefer a semi-private or private room, you'll need extra insurance. Most private insurance plans also pay a percentage of prescription-drug costs, and may also cover vision and dental care. For possible insurers, consult an insurance broker or call the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association at 1-800-268-8099.

For a complete coverage list and answers to questions about services, call your local Ministry of Health office or the information line at 1-800-664-8988.


FINDING A DOCTOR
With a shortage of physicians in Ontario, it can be hard to find a family doctor. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario maintains a website to connect people with doctors accepting new patients. To find doctors in your area, visit www.cpso.on.ca and click on Doctor Search. The website is regularly updated, but call the doctors office to ensure that new patients are still being accepted.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Ontario has introduced a premium for health coverage. Although coverage is still provided under the Canada Health Act based on residency, not employment, there is an extra amount added to your provincial income tax to cover what the Ontario government has termed a rising health-care costs. Employers can also deduct a new premium, in addition to the income tax already removed from pay cheques.

If self-employed, you must calculate the amount based on income level and send it in with your installment payments to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. After the first time, it will be added to the amount you are required to pay in installments. People whose taxable income is $20,000 or less don't have to pay the premium. People who don't pay the premium will not be denied health care, but may have to pay a penalty.

College of Physicians and Surgeons www.cpso.on.ca
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario www.cpso.on.ca

Health & Wellness

Toronto Public Health www.toronto.ca/health
Doctors
Health Care in Toronto

-Moving To Magazines

Health Care in Toronto

For some, getting health insurance in Ontario is a frustrating process of multiple phone calls and trips to the Ministry of Health. For those who come prepared, approval can be headache-free. Consider these two scenarios. Robert Stevens moved to Ontario from a different country to work at Microsoft. Unlike those moving within Canada, Robert and his family didn't have health coverage during the three-month waiting period before they were eligible to apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). When their son needed hospital care, they ended up with a $400 bill. When the waiting period was up, Robert's wife, Jo-Anne, visited the local Ministry of Health office to apply for OHIP. She soon became frustrated. After about three trips, we finally found out we needed Rob's work permit and a letter from his employer stating his job was permanent. As well, we needed permits for me and our two sons.

For Dr. Wahbi Hammouda, a hematologist at Sunnybrook hospital, the process was much smoother. He moved from Quebec to Ontario, and during the three-month waiting period before he could apply for his card, he went on the Ministry of Health website to familiarize himself with OHIP application process downloaded and filled out the application, found out what documentation he needed, and where the nearest office was. I brought a utility bill showing that I had been living in Ontario for three months and I had my drivers license and passport with me. I was given a temporary paper as proof I was covered under OHIP and about two weeks later, I received the card in the mail.

OHIP MADE EASY
Whether you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, landed immigrant, refugee or status Indian, after living in Ontario for three months, you‚ are likely entitled to an OHIP card. To make it easy, familiarize yourself with the process ahead of time.

The Ministry of Health requires you to provide three pieces of original documentation:

1. Proof you are a Canadian citizen or that you hold another status qualifying you for Ontario health insurance coverage, such as confirmation of permanent residence.

2. Proof you are a permanent resident in Ontario, such as bank statements or a utility bill featuring your new address.

3. A document with both your name and signature, like a credit card.

If you have children under 15, you need to apply for their health coverage as well. You can do so while applying for your own, and your children don't need to be with you. Just as for yourself, you will need to provide three original documents per child. The document showing their citizenship or status as, for example, a permanent resident must be in their name, but the other two documents can be in the name of the parent registering them. Children over 15 must register in person because they'll have a photo and signature on their OHIP card. These children will need all three original documents to be in their name.

You may be asked for additional documentation, so it's a good idea to bring more than you may need. For a list of accepted documentation and to find the nearest office, visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website at www.health.gov.on.ca. If you are still unsure about what you need to bring with you or don't have the proper documentation, call the Ministry's information line at 1-800-664-8988.

WHAT ARE YOU COVERED FOR?
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers everyday services, including routine medical care, annual checkups, recommended vaccinations, standard lab tests, emergency room visits, hospital stays and use of hospital clinics.

Although there are no additional fees for basic services, not all services are provided without cost. Each province has the discretion to select what is considered an essential service. For example, in Ontario, doctors may charge for missed appointments, physical examinations required for jobs, extra paperwork such as transferring files, and other administrative fees.

While OHIP covers a wide range of health services, it only pays for those that are medically necessary. This excludes services like cosmetic surgery and laser eye surgery for vision correction. As well, yearly routine eye exams are only covered by OHIP for persons under 20 and over 65. For people aged 20 to 64, OHIP covers a major eye examination once every 12 months provided the person has a medical condition, like glaucoma, that requires regular examinations. Physiotherapy services may not be covered unless administered in hospital. Chiropractic services are not covered at all. Ambulance services are also not automatically covered. Prescription drugs are covered only when they're dispensed in hospitals.

During hospital stays, OHIP pays for a standard, four-bed room. If you prefer a semi-private or private room, you'll need extra insurance. Most private insurance plans also pay a percentage of prescription-drug costs, and may also cover vision and dental care. For possible insurers, consult an insurance broker or call the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association at 1-800-268-8099.

For a complete coverage list and answers to questions about services, call your local Ministry of Health office or the information line at 1-800-664-8988.


FINDING A DOCTOR
With a shortage of physicians in Ontario, it can be hard to find a family doctor. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario maintains a website to connect people with doctors accepting new patients. To find doctors in your area, visit www.cpso.on.ca and click on Doctor Search. The website is regularly updated, but call the doctors office to ensure that new patients are still being accepted.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Ontario has introduced a premium for health coverage. Although coverage is still provided under the Canada Health Act based on residency, not employment, there is an extra amount added to your provincial income tax to cover what the Ontario government has termed a rising health-care costs. Employers can also deduct a new premium, in addition to the income tax already removed from pay cheques.

If self-employed, you must calculate the amount based on income level and send it in with your installment payments to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. After the first time, it will be added to the amount you are required to pay in installments. People whose taxable income is $20,000 or less don't have to pay the premium. People who don't pay the premium will not be denied health care, but may have to pay a penalty.