OHIP & Health Insurance
Newcomers are eligible for medical benefits under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) three months after arriving in Ontario. OHIP is publicly funded health insurance that pays for visits to the doctor, hospital and other medical services. Prescription drugs are not covered by OHIP except under certain circumstances (see Prescription Drugs below).
You should apply for an OHIP card as soon as possible to ensure you have OHIP coverage at the end of the three-month waiting period.
To ensure you and your family have medical coverage during the waiting period, you will need to purchase short-term health insurance from a private company. You can do this before you arrive in Ontario or within the first few days.
If you choose not to have private coverage, you will have to pay to see a doctor or receive other medical care during the first three months. A major illness or hospital stay without health insurance coverage would be very costly.
If you are working, you may be able to obtain health insurance from a company-sponsored health insurance plan. A number of companies have insurance plans specifically for new immigrants and people without OHIP coverage. Generally, the type of coverage is for "visitors to Canada." Some insurance policies do not cover costs related to pregnancy and birth.
The Canadian government provides temporary health insurance to refugees, protected persons and refugee claimants, plus their dependents, under the Interim Federal Health Program. The insurance covers the cost of emergency medical care and other services and is only available to individuals who are not yet covered by a provincial or territorial health plan and meet certain criteria. To inquire about the Interim Federal Health Program, call 1-888-242-2100 or TTY 1-888-576-8502.
OHIP generally does not cover the cost of prescription drugs. Some exceptions are cancer drugs and medications administered to patients in hospital.
Some employers provide private health insurance that covers part or all of the cost of most prescription drugs, depending on the plan. Workplace health insurance plans often require members to pay a small percentage of their overall drug costs, called a "co-payment."
The Ontario government has special programs to help people with exceptional prescription drug expenses. Some examples are:
- The Ontario Drug Benefit (ODP) provides coverage for prescription drugs for senior citizens aged 65 and over, individuals on social assistance, and residents of long-term care homes.
- The Trillium Drug Program (TDP) helps Ontario residents who have high prescription drug costs in relation to their net household income.
- The Special Drugs Program covers the full cost of certain drugs prescribed for patients with specific health conditions.
For More Information
Hospitals may charge high fees to pregnant women who are not insured under OHIP. includes more information and list of options. Available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
Ontario Immigration information about OHIP, the waiting period, services covered, how to apply for a health card, financing the first three months in Ontario, and questions and answers.
What is health insurance, how to apply, what documents are needed, what you will receive and when the insurance takes effect.
What is a health card, who is eligible for Ontario health insurance, the importance of carrying a health card, and a list of OHIP offices in Ontario communities.
Provides temporary health insurance to refugees, protected persons and refugee claimants and their dependents who are not covered by a provincial or territorial health plan.
An association that represents private insurance companies in Canada. Has information on types of insurance and other services.
Who the three-month waiting period for OHIP applies to and a list of exempted groups. Links to ServiceOntario offices where application for OHIP is made.
What is private health insurance, why you need it, the role of community health centres in providing care to individuals and families without OHIP.
Information about buying private health insurance, the type of coverage needed, and the names and phone numbers of three companies that have health insurance plans for new immigrants and individuals without OHIP.
Information about types of health services provided by private companies. Includes such items as prescription drugs, hearing aids, dental services, medical supplies, vision care, semi-private and private hospital room, massage therapy and prosthetic devices.
How and where to access many government services, including health cards, family doctor, and long-term care.
Answers to questions about eligibility for OHIP, how to register children, applying for an OHIP card, services covered by OHIP (including those not covered, such as eye care, services in other provinces and territories, and services outside of Canada), what to do if you move, and the immigration documents you need to apply for health insurance in Ontario.
The Trillium Drug Program helps Ontario residents with OHIP cover exceptionally high prescription drug costs.
The government pays the full cost of some drugs used to treat specific medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis and schizophrenia. OHIP coverage is required.
Background information on the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP): such as who the program covers and what kinds of coverage is offered depending on refugee or protected person status, where to get services, and what is required of beneficiaries. Also includes general information for health care professionals and links to forms.
Where can I buy private health insurance for newcomers and visitors to Canada? Information on purchasing health insurance coverage as a visitor to Canada or to cover the 3-month OHIP waiting period required for newcomers to Ontario. Also available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.