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Health Insurance for International Students in Canada: Plans, Policies, Coverage and Tips

Last updated on February 18, 2024

Deciding on healthcare coverage is one of the most important financial decisions international students must make when studying in Canada. With frequent changes in immigration policies, various provincial health insurance plans, and numerous private insurance options, navigating health insurance can be confusing.

This comprehensive guide, Health Insurance for International Students in Canada, breaks down the key considerations and top providers to help you make the right choice.

Health Insurance for International Students in Canada: An Overview

International students are not covered under government-provided Canadian health insurance plans. They must purchase private health insurance plans that offer adequate and continuous coverage for the duration of their studies. Visitors to Canada are also mandated to have health coverage to obtain a study permit.

Health insurance helps pay for medical costs incurred due to illness, injuries or emergencies. This includes doctor/hospital visits, lab tests, procedures, prescription drugs and more. A good student health insurance plan also covers vaccination costs, mental health services, vision care and global emergency medical coverage.

When selecting a health insurance provider, key considerations include:

  • Coverage: Type of medical services/prescriptions covered and coverage amount limits
  • Premium costs: Monthly or annual premium costs
  • Deductibles: Out-of-pocket costs before insurance kicks in
  • Provider network: Healthcare facilities part of insurer’s network
  • Pre-existing conditions: Whether pre-existing health conditions are covered
  • Global coverage: Extent of emergency coverage while travelling internationally

We compared some of the most popular insurance providers for international students in Canada across these key aspects:

Insurance ProviderCoveragePremium CostsDeductiblesDoctor VisitsGlobal Coverage
StudentCareComprehensive$144 – $284 per year$0Covered, 80% reimbursementYes, $5 million limit
Guard.meComprehensive$1.50 – $2.75 per day$0CoveredYes, $5 million limit
Ingle InternationalComprehensive$1.30 – $2.65 per day$500 – $2500 per yearCovered, some limitsYes

Below we dive deeper into the key health insurance considerations for students, insurance policy components, costs and tips for managing your healthcare finances in Canada.

Read Also: Benefits of Schengen Travel Insurance

Detailed Health Insurance Plans Comparison

When comparing various health insurance options, it’s crucial to understand the type and extent of medical services covered. This impacts out-of-pocket costs incurred over your study term.

Here is a detailed feature comparison across top providers:

Coverage Comparison

ServiceStudentCareGuard.meIngle International
Prescription DrugsCovered, pay and claim reimbursementCovered, pay and claim reimbursementCovered
DentalCleanings, fillings, extractions covered. Other dental services at reduced ratesBasic services covered only, no orthodonticsNot covered
PhysiotherapyCovered, $500 limit per yearCoveredCovered
Ambulance ServicesCoveredCoveredCovered
Medical EquipmentSome coverageCoveredCovered if prescribed
Vision CareCovered, $100 limit per 2 yearsNot coveredNot covered
Pre-existing ConditionsGenerally excluded for first 6-12 monthsCovered if stable 90 days prior to policyCovered if stable 180 days prior
Mental Health ServicesCovered, reasonable and customary limitsCoveredCovered, some limits

Key Takeaway: All three providers have comprehensive medical and emergency coverage suitable for students. For dental, vision and mental health coverage, StudentCare generally has higher coverage amounts compared to the other two providers. Those with pre-existing health problems will need to closely evaluate each insurer’s pre-existing condition timeline and coverage details.

Cost Comparison

ServiceStudentCareGuard.meIngle International
Premium Cost$144 – $284 per year, depending on province and coverage duration selected$1.50 – $2.75 per day$1.30 – $2.65 per day
Deductible$0$0$500 – $2,500 per year
Prescription CostsPay and claim reimbursementPay and claim reimbursementNo deductible for Quebec residents. Other provinces pay and claim reimbursement up to 80%
Dental CostsBasic services covered. Other services offered at reduced rates set by StudentCare Dental NetworkAdditional costs beyond basic covered servicesNot covered
Ambulance CostsCoveredCoveredCovered

Key Takeaway: Premium costs are much lower for and Ingle Insurance since they offer daily rates, but watch out for deductibles and extra costs beyond covered amounts. StudentCare has higher premiums but zero deductibles and greater coverage for medications, vision and dental.

Choosing the Right Health Insurance Plan

With premium costs, copays, deductibles and reimbursement limits varying widely across providers, selecting the ideal health plan is crucial but challenging.

Here are key questions to ask yourself when deciding on health coverage as an international student in Canada:

1. How much coverage do I need?

Think about your medical history, prescription medications, eyecare needs and other health services required. This shapes the type of coverage suitable for you. For example, those needing regular specialist visits, dental work or expensive prescriptions require plans with generous coverage amounts or lower copays. Otherwise, out-of-pocket costs add up quickly.

2. What extra services matter most?

Beyond hospital/doctor coverage, many insurers offer add-ons like vision, dental, physiotherapy, mental health services and global emergency coverage. Figure out which extras are essential healthcare or financial safeguards for your situation. This ensures you do not pay for unnecessary coverage.

3. What is my budget for premium costs?

Health insurance is a significant expense, with premiums ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars annually between different providers. Make sure to account for total costs when budgeting as a student. Some ways to save on premiums include choosing higher deductibles or lower coverage amounts. But this leads to higher eventual healthcare costs. Evaluate tradeoffs carefully when deciding on an amount.

4. Does the insurer offer suitable network access?

Look for health plans with provider networks giving sufficient access to hospitals, clinics, doctors and pharmacies near your university location and city more broadly. Restricted networks mean additional out-of-pocket costs and travel. Some insurers also have partnerships with specific universities, so check what options your school recommends or makes available.

5. How financially stable is the insurer?

Only consider health insurance from established providers with strong financial health. This ensures they can pay out claims reliably for the long term. Research the insurer’s history, reputation, management team and investor information to have confidence in their stability.

By clearly answering the key questions above for your situation, you can zero in on health insurance plans that offer the right level of financial protection.

Components of Health Insurance Policies

While coverage amounts, premium costs and deductibles give a snapshot of how insurance plans differ, it’s also crucial to understand what specific services are included.

Key components making up health insurance for students include:

Global Emergency Coverage

This covers sudden illness or injury during international trips outside Canada for tourism, family emergencies or other reasons. There is a maximum limit between $5 million to $10 million per incident depending on the insurer. Some pre-approval from the provider may be required before making large claims.

Prescription Drug Coverage

Medications prescribed during hospital visits or by registered physicians are covered up to an annual limit. Students pay upfront for medications then submit receipts for reimbursement. Some providers have preferred pharmacy networks providing drugs at discounted rates or directly covered without copays.

Physician and Specialist Visits

Diagnostic, surgical, dialysis or other services prescribed by licensed doctors or specialists are covered. This includes tests like blood work, ultrasounds and endoscopies. Reimbursement amounts depend on the normal cost established by each province. Frequency limits may apply for services like physiotherapy or mental health sessions.

X-rays, Hospital Stays and Surgeries

Medically necessary procedures conducted in hospitals like surgery, child delivery, and diagnostic imaging tests are included though pre-approvals may be required. Most insurers cover private or semi-private hospital rooms. Ward rooms have lower or no coverage. Daily maximum amounts apply for room charges.

Ambulance Transportation

Emergency transport like an ambulance, taxi or airplane for medical evacuation between hospitals or cities are fully covered. Some dollar value maximums ranging from $15,000 to unlimited are set by insurance companies. Elective transfers are generally excluded.

Read Also: 10 Best Travel Insurance Companies in Germany


Routine vaccinations like flu shots along with travel vaccines and immunizations required for entrance into Canadian educational programs are covered up to specified limits.

Understanding exactly what necessities and extras are covered under each health insurance policy lets you make smart financial decisions as an international student.

Average Cost of Health Insurance in Canada

Health insurance costs for international students vary depended on multiple factors:

  • Age: Premium costs are higher for students above 25 years or over 40 years in some cases
  • Coverage Duration: Yearly policies have lower monthly costs compared to shorter 3 or 6 month durations
  • Prior Conditions: Pre-existing medical history may limit eligibility or increase premiums
  • Coverage Type: Higher coverage amounts increase costs but reduce copays
  • Insurer Discounts: Some providers offer 5-10% discounts for multi-year enrollment

On average, international students pay between $1,500 to $3,000 per year for health insurance depending on above variables. Dental insurance costs extra around $300 to $400 annually if purchased separately.

Many student insurance plans include coverage for dependents like young children or a partner/spouse for additional fees. Custom multi-year packages are also available from certain insurers.

When budgeting, be sure to account for the total costs of premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs each time care is accessed outside of coverage limits and for uncovered services. This minimizes financial surprises when the need for healthcare actually comes up.

Tips for Managing Healthcare Finances as an International Student

The below tips help you minimize unnecessary healthcare costs during your stay in Canada:

1. Understand Provincial Health Insurance

While international students aren’t eligible for government health plans, knowing what is covered for residents helps navigate the system cost effectively. For instance, services like routine doctor visits may be free or low cost from campus health clinics funded by provincial governments.

2. Use On-Campus Healthcare Options

Your university likely offers health services like annual check-ups, sexual health exams, counseling and vaccinations covered through student activity fees. Using these convenient and subsidized on-campus options reduces expenses. Clinics also readily verify documents needed by insurers.

3. Leverage Tax Credits

Many international students qualify for federal coverage for prescription drug costs and other premium-based health taxes. Maintaining receipts to claim tax credits recovers costs each year.

4. Use Student Plan Partner Providers

Insurers like and Ingle offer discounts or coverages for healthcare providers partnered with your university. Using these convenient campus services maximizes savings. Look for break-downs of nearby optometrists, dentists, physiotherapists or other specialists your student health plan prefers.

5. Compare Prescription Costs

When prescribed medications, do not automatically purchase from the first pharmacy suggested. Compare prices between different drugstores, on and off campus. Ask about student discounts or loyalty programs. Online telehealth sites also offer cost saving on common drugs, though check if covered under your existing insurance.

6. Look into Dental School Services

Major universities with dental programs run low cost dental clinics where procedures are conducted by senior students under instructor supervision for reduced fees. These deliver savings of 20-40% on check ups, scaling, cavity fillings and other oral treatments.

7. Leverage Student Health Resources

Many universities offer health promotion programs covering topics like stress, nutrition, fitness and more with giveaways like multivitamins and yoga mats. International student associations also organize wellness events and mental health workshops creating enjoyable, community-based opportunities to support health.

Recommended Health Insurance Providers

Here are the top recommended health insurance providers for international students based on plan flexibility, affordability and coverage inclusivity:

  • Available for ages 0 to 85+
  • Partners with many Canadian universities
  • $2,750 lifetime maximum for mental health coverage
  • Monthly cost from ~$45 and up is one of the most popular and trusted insurers protecting international students for decades. It gives comprehensive medical and dental coverage for reasonable rates. We recommend considering if you want reliable day-to-day healthcare support.

Ingle International

  • $5 million emergency medical maximum
  • 180 days pre-existing condition coverage
  • Discounts for multi-year enrollment
  • Monthly costs from ~$40 and up

Ingle International offers very comprehensive care options tailored specifically for international students across Canada. Beyond basic healthcare, it has generous coverage amounts for emergency medical, vision, dental and prescriptions making it quite inclusive if you have higher healthcare needs.


  • $100 vision coverage every two years
  • Several unique dental coverage options
  • Range of discount programs
  • Annual costs ~$290

In addition to standard medical coverage, StudentCare places extra focus on medications, mental wellbeing, vision, dentistry and reducing ancillary student health costs. It delivers strong financial support for your overall wellness while studying in Canada.

No matter what stage you are at choosing health insurance, determining the right coverage specific to your situation is key. This comprehensive guide clarified all considerations when deciding on an international student health insurance plan in Canada – from core coverage components to average costs to money-saving tips when accessing healthcare.

Evaluate your needs and shortlist provider options that give you peace of mind so you can focus on academic success and enjoying student life in Canada!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still have questions about health insurance as an international student in Canada? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

Can I buy health insurance after reaching Canada?

It’s recommended to purchase health coverage even before flying to Canada to avoid gaps without insurance. Most insurers allow buying policies online in advance which get activated the moment you land. However, it is still possible to buy in-person after arrival from providers like which partner with universities.

When does my university health insurance coverage start and end?

Standard student insurance plans run from September 1 to August 31 of the following year tied to academic terms. Confirm exact durations with your chosen provider. Ensure proper cancellation and renewal procedures are followed when switching policies to prevent lapses between old and new coverage.

Can I use my home country’s insurance while studying in Canada?

Unfortunately most foreign insurance plans including government coverage do not extend beyond emergency medical treatment while briefly visiting Canada as a tourist. Using only out-of-country insurance leaves you vulnerable by not sufficiently covering standard doctor visits, prescription drugs, medical devices and hospital services required for an extended multi-year stay as a student.

What are OHIP cards given by my university during orientation?

While OHIP stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (the government funded provincial health program), the cards distributed to international students by universities upon arrival are simply identification cards. They do not grant actual OHIP coverage. The ID cards help access and verify existing private health insurance when receiving medical treatment on or off campus.

Where can I finddiscounts on health services?

Registering for a ISIC student card provides access to savings on vision care, medication costs, mental wellness offerings and more through its student deals platform. Most universities also list campus dentist clinics, physiotherapy services and other subsidized healthcare options with lower rates for enrolled students only.

Who should I contact for health insurance plan questions?

Reach out to the licensed advisor or agent who sold you the health insurance policy directly for personalized clarification on statements, claims, reimbursements or expenses particular to your plan details. Providers like and StudentCare also maintain advisor networks responsible for ongoing student inquiries.

We hope these answers help you in securing comprehensive and affordable health insurance during your academic journey in Canada. Let us know any other questions in the comments!

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