I have been trying to get a hang of my surroundings the last few months while setting up my business and working a temp contract job, which may become permanent in the next few months.
If you’re new to this site, I immigrated to Canada under the Federal Self-Employed program (cultural activities) and moved in April this year.
You can read more about my immigration and landing process at the following links:-
I went over setting up my self-employed business a few weeks after I arrived in Canada. It was a fast and simple process as a sole proprietor.
You can read more about that process at Setting Up My Self-Employed Business in Canada.
Today, I will be covering medical insurance as a self-employed person in Canada and why it’s important you have this in place ASAP even if health care is “free” in Canada.
What is OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan)?
OHIP is Ontario’s provincial health care plan. OHIP is available to Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents, people on work permits, Temporary Resident Permits, protected persons and full-time clergy members.
Coverage begins 3 months after you arrive in Canada unless you qualify for immediate coverage such as newborn babies, adopted children, refugees, etc.
You will need to apply for the health card and once approved, it will be mailed to you.
You need to show this card every time you see a doctor, conduct tests, go to an emergency room or other medical situations.
What Are the Requirements for OHIP Card?
I registered for my card at ServiceOntario around 2.5 months after landing. Despite all the negative comments online, I was in and out of ServiceOntario on Hurontario Street within 30 minutes and the person I dealt with was polite.
I went in around 5 pm so I guess it was a good day. I did get the impression early in the morning and late evening on weekdays seem to be the least busy time.
I provided the following documents to complete my registration:-
- Completed registration form
- COPR (original)
- Passport (original)
- Ontario driver’s license
- PR card
- Bank statement showing residence in Ontario
They said I would get the health card within 60 days but it arrived less than 2 weeks later. I was quite chuffed to have a government ID card where I didn’t look crazy. 😛
You can learn more about applying for OHIP on Ontario province page HERE.
What Does OHIP Cover?
So back to the point of this post, health coverage in Ontario (OHIP) doesn’t cover everything. OHIP pays for basic medical and emergency services such as:
- Appointments with a family doctor
- Visits to walk-in clinics and some other health care providers
- Emergency room visits
- Medical tests and surgeries
OHIP doesn’t cover prescriptions, cosmetic surgery, certain dental services or chiropractic services.
Usually, when you find a job, your employer will cover the rest but this isn’t always the case.
Additionally, if you’re self-employed, you will have to buy private medical insurance to cover the rest.
I bought private insurance via Arbetov Insurance to cover the first three months in Canada, but once I received my health card, I needed an option that was more affordable long term.
Supplemental Medical Insurance for Self-Employed People in Canada
I was able to find a viable option via the professional association in my field – creative artists.
I joined the association a few weeks after arrival in Canada and through them, I was able to secure a preferential rate for additional coverage through the Writer’s Coalition.
The Writer’s Coalition provides health insurance for the writing community through AFBS.
AFBS is a not-for-profit insurance provider owned by performers and writers. A writer’s family can also be covered through this program.
A few days after registering, I received all the necessary documentation via email and some more helpful information for other types of insurance. The premium is paid at the end of every month.
If you are in a different field, you may want to check with your local association and join them ASAP.
They may be able to link you up with a similar coalition that can provide preferential rates for additional coverage.
Additionally, as a self-employed person, you can deduct your private medical insurance premiums and expenses from your annual income before taxes.
You can find the list of eligible medical expenses on CRA website HERE. This helps you reduce the amount of tax you have to pay per year.
Do I Need Private Medical Insurance?
Are you the arms and legs of your business? If the answer is yes, then you do.
A visit to a doctor outside your coverage can cost you thousands without supplemental insurance not to mention an inability to earn income while you are laid up in bed.
This is not something you want to skip on as a self-employed person especially if you’re a sole proprietor.
If your local association doesn’t have a program similar to the Writers Coalition program, you can get affordable private medical insurance via although “affordable” is relative:-
PS – I haven’t used any of these companies. My recommendation is based on customer reviews.
Before you sign up for any insurance packages, be sure to read the fine print very carefully and make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s not so you don’t get a shock in future.
You may not use supplemental medical insurance for years but it’s good to know it’s there for when you need it because you will need it at some point.