Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)
Canada has one of the finest health insurance programs in the world. Health insurance means that you don't have to pay directly for most health care services. The provincial government covers basic health care under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), paid for through your taxes. It covers a wide range of necessary health services, such as doctors’ visits, medical specialists, hospital stays, etc. Individuals new to Ontario or returning after a long absence must obtain a health card. You are not eligible for OHIP coverage if you are a tourist or visitor to Ontario.
In most provinces, including Ontario, health insurance does not cover the cost of prescription drugs, dental care, ambulance services, eye examinations (for those 20 to 64 years of age) and long-term care. Rather than bear the full cost of such treatments or services yourself, private health insurance is available to cover most (if not all) of these costs. However, premiums can be quite expensive. Some employers offer additional health insurance to cover such items, for a monthly deduction from your paycheque. We are very privileged here at York University to have a generous Group Benefits package to offset such costs. Our Pension and Benefits Counsellor can tell you more. OHIP information is available at health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/default.aspx.
Applying for OHIP
It is your responsibility to apply for OHIP for you and your dependants as soon as possible – ideally within the first few weeks of arriving in Canada, since there is usually a three-month waiting period before you can benefit from the program. You must apply for OHIP in person.
You can get an application form at a doctor's office, a hospital, a pharmacy or an immigrant support organization. You can also get forms from the provincial ministry responsible for health, listed in the blue pages of your telephone book. Please call the OHIP office at 1-800-387-5559 or (416) 314-5518 or the Ministry of Health Information Line, (905) 275-2730.
One local OHIP office is located at 4400 Dufferin St. Unit A4-A5, (first lights south of Finch Street).
Other office locations are listed at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/contact/ohip/ohiploc_mn.html.
Hours are generally from 8:30am to 7pm, but do vary, so please check.
You will need to complete the `Registration for Ontario Health Coverage’ form and to take along three original pieces of valid identification that show:
Canadian citizenship or immigration status (e.g. validated work permit, visa, permanent resident card)
Proof of residency in Ontario (e.g. mortgage or lease papers, utility bill, bank account statement)
Personal Identification (e.g. Social Insurance Number, credit card or bank card, birth certificate, valid Ontario or temporary driver’s licence)
Tip: Go early in the morning, upon opening or shortly after, to minimize wait times, which peak later in the day.
Note: Each member of your family needs his or her own Health Insurance Card. Always take your card with you when you go to the doctor or the hospital. If your children are 15 ½ years or younger, you can apply for their health coverage at the same time as you apply for your own. Children older than 15 ½ years must register in person. It is important to apply as soon as possible once you have arrived in Ontario.
When you join OHIP, you will receive an Ontario Health Insurance card, which provides you with a permanent health insurance number. Every person, including children, has their own Ontario Health Insurance card and must produce it whenever medical services are required. The photo health card will have an expiry date that is linked to the expiry date on your work permit or to your date of birth.
It is your responsibility to notify the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care when you move (an on-line service is available at ontario.ca) and to update your card prior to the expiry date.
There is normally a three-month mandatory waiting period before OHIP coverage starts. During this period, while you await issuance of your OHIP card, you will not be able to register with a family doctor. If you need to see a doctor, you will need to use Walk-in clinics or healthcare practitioners that accept the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP). A few groups are exempt from the waiting period, for example, newborn babies born in Canada and living in Ontario. OHIP coverage normally becomes effective three months after the date you establish residency in Ontario.
If you are a newcomer to Ontario or a former resident returning here to live after being out of the country for more than seven months, the waiting period begins on the date you establish or re-establish residence in Ontario.
In the interim, you may access the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), carried by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. Please contact a Pension and Benefits Administrator for details.
For those moving to Ontario from another Canadian province, there is a three-month waiting period before you are eligible for OHIP. During this waiting period, you will continue to be covered by the health insurance of your previous province for up to three months.
University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP)
It is mandatory that you have OHIP, UHIP or its approved equivalent. Information on UHIP is available at uhip.ca.
The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) will provide coverage for you and your family at comparable levels to OHIP. Membership is mandatory, unless you have another plan that has been approved as a waiver. UHIP premiums are either paid by the employee or by the union or group they are affiliated with. The York University Faculty Association (YUFA), for example, pays the premiums on behalf of its members.
For academic employees and staff, coverage usually begins on the first of the month to coincide with your `effective start date’ at York University, subject to completion of your registration documents. Please visit uhip.ca for more information. You must enrol your family members in UHIP no more than 30 days after they arrive in Canada. If you enrol late, you may have to pay premiums retroactive to the first day of the month in which your university employment began, and there is a late fee. In order to enrol in UHIP, please contact a Pension and Benefits Administrator.
For visiting academia not employed by York, please contact York International for assistance with enrolling in UHIP.
Many health care providers who will accept UHIP, but you must present your UHIP card (which you printed from the web) and pay the non-refundable administration fee which depending on the facility can range from $15 - $50 dollars. If you do not present your UHIP card, you will be charged much more, but having paid it out of pocket, would claim it back from UHIP. The admin charge can be claimed back from the government when you submit your annual income tax claim.