To a great extent, the constitution of Canada determines the country’s health care system. This key piece of legislation divides roles and responsibilities between federal, territorial, and provincial governments. The territorial and provincial governments bear most of the responsibility for providing health care services.

Financing Health Care

Revenue raised through taxes is used to finance publicly funded health care. These include sales tax, personal and corporate taxes, and payroll levies. Some provinces make their residents pay a health premium to help cover publicly funded health care services. However, failure to pay a premium should not limit access to emergency health care.

The federal, territorial, and provincial governments share responsibility for public health, which includes infectious illnesses and sanitation. Generally, these services are delivered at the territorial and provincial level.

Health Costs Can Vary

Health costs can vary within the publicly funded health care system depending on the territory and province. This is because different services are covered in different places and the age of the population varies as well.

Primary Health Care

Most Canadians use primary health care services when they need medical help. These services are the first point of contact. Normally, their function is twofold: they involve direct provision of first-contact medical care and they ensure continuity of care across the Canadian health care system in case specialized help is needed, for example in a hospital.

Primary health care services may include basic emergency services, prevention and treatment of common injuries and diseases, primary mental health care, referrals to other levels of care, end-of-life care, rehabilitation services, health promotion services, healthy child development services, and maternity care.

Private Health Care

Private health care providers are usually paid through special schedules that involve itemization of each service. You pay the doctor a fee for each service. The fees are negotiated between each territorial and provincial government in the respective jurisdictions.

Doctors in group practices, clinics, and community health centers are more likely to charge fees through an alternative payment scheme, such as fees for services or salaries.

Canadian Hospitals

Most Canadian hospitals are operated by voluntary organizations, community boards of trustees, or regional health authorities established by territorial or provincial governments. Usually, hospitals are funded through global annual budgets that set overall expenditure limits or targets as opposed to fee-for-service mechanisms. These budgets are negotiated with the territorial or provincial health ministries or with a regional health authority or board. Several provinces are currently experimenting with supplementary funding approaches.

As far as free health services go, Canadian ones are among the best in the world. A lot of people from the US choose to get health care in Canada.