One of the benefits for newcomers moving to Canada is access to publicly funded health care, which has a reputation of being world-class. Health care is delivered through each of Canada’s provinces and territories. For residents of Quebec, it’s through their health insurance plan, Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). Here’s what you need to know about RAMQ and how to apply.
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See Healthcare in Canada: Basics for newcomers for an overview of provincial health insurance, understanding health coverage provided by the government, and learning how to find a family doctor.
Health care coverage in Quebec
Residents of Quebec are eligible for healthcare under RAMQ, which facilitates access to free coverage for residents who qualify. You’ll need to apply for a valid Health Insurance Card in order to receive healthcare benefits. Quebec residents must also have prescription drug insurance coverage, which is available through RAMQ’s Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan or through private health insurance benefits.
Is a Quebec health care card valid in Ontario or other provinces?
Holding a valid Quebec health care card does not mean you are automatically covered for health care in Ontario or other provinces in Canada. A doctor may accept a Quebec health care card in Ontario as they will be reimbursed for their services in accordance with RAMQ. However, they may refuse to accept your card. In this situation, you would be required to pay the doctor or hospital fees and apply for a refund through RAMQ. Your refund from RAMQ may take up to three months.
Can you have a health card in two provinces?
Publicly funded health care and health cards are the responsibility of each province or territory within Canada. Therefore, you cannot have two valid health cards in two provinces simultaneously, as you can only be a resident of one province at a time.
What’s covered under RAMQ?
The public health plan in Quebec covers the full cost of the following medically necessary services at hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, and CLSCs (centre local de services communautaires):
- Medical examinations and visits to a family doctor or general practitioner
- Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
- Psychiatric care
- Surgery and anesthetic
- Vaccinations under the Quebec Immunisation Program
- Certain radiology services that are provided by a medical practitioner
- Optometric services for children aged 17 and younger, or adults 65 and older
- $25 reimbursement for eyeglasses or contacts for children aged under 18
- Annual and emergency dental examination, x-rays, fillings, tooth or root extractions, and endodontics for children under the age of 10
- Certain oral surgeries performed at a hospital, except for tooth or root extractions, except for children under the age of 10 or individuals receiving financial assistance
What’s not covered under RAMQ?
Quebec’s Health Insurance Plan does not cover medical services that are not related to preventing and curing illness or disease. Services that do not fall under this category must be paid for out of pocket, including:
- Cosmetic services
- Medical examinations for employment or insurance purposes
- Cost of a missed medical appointment
- Ambulance transportation
- Complementary or alternative medical treatments, such as a chiropractor, acupuncture, physiotherapy, and occupational therapist
- MRIs and CAT scan
- Echography conducted by any medical practitioner other than a radiologist
- Services by medical professionals who do not participate in the province’s public health plan
Who is eligible for RAMQ?
To be eligible for health care in Quebec, you must be authorized to stay in Canada, establish primary residence in the province and not be absent from Quebec for 183 days or more in the first 12 months of settling there.
In order to legally settle in Quebec, you must be a Canadian citizen, Permanent Resident, hold a valid work permit for more than six months, or participate in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program or Temporary Foreign Worker program for residents of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, or Salvador. Students who wish to apply for health insurance coverage must be the recipient of a scholarship from the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur du Québec or come from one of the countries that have a social security agreement with Quebec, which are listed below.
When does coverage start?
There is up to a three-month waiting period for health coverage in Quebec for newcomers to the province or anyone settling elsewhere in Canada. This applies to you as well as your accompanying spouse and any dependents you have. The province suggests you obtain private health insurance coverage to cover you and your family during your waiting period.
However, there is no wait time for anyone who moves to Quebec from any of the following countries, as the province has a social security agreement with these countries:
If you arrive in Quebec from any of these countries, you, your spouse, and your dependents will benefit from RAMQ immediately, once you register for health insurance.
What documents are needed to apply for RAMQ ?
As soon as you move to Quebec, you can register for the Health Insurance Plan provided you meet the necessary eligibility requirements. You will need two original or certified true copies of ID to apply. Any documents not in English or French language will need to be translated.
You will need the following documents to apply:
- Original or certified true copy of proof of Canadian citizenship (e.g. Canadian passport, certificate of Canadian citizenship or birth certificate) OR
- Original or certified true copy of proof of legal right to be in Canada (e.g. Permanent Resident Card, Canada entry document issued by Canadian immigration authorities)
- Original or certified true copy of Quebec selection certificate, if applicable.
- One additional piece of original ID, such as:
- Quebec Health Insurance Card or health card from another province
- Quebec driver’s license or driver’s license from another province
- Birth certificate issued by Canada
- Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
- Document issued by the Canadian or Quebec immigration authorities
One of the pieces of ID must have your photo on it.
How to apply for a Quebec health card
The province of Quebec suggests applying for RAMQ within 15 days of settling in the province to avoid delays. You’ll need to complete an application form for the health insurance plan. In-person appointments are no longer required to apply for a Quebec health card. Here’s how you can register for an online appointment, depending on your situation:
- Newcomer to Quebec: Make an appointment online with an agent to call you back at your convenience.
- Re-registration after a prolonged absence from Québec: Make an appointment online with an agent to call you back at your convenience.
- Registration of a foreign student or trainee: Fill out the form required for your situation online.
Once your application has been processed, a letter will be mailed to you indicating the date from which you are eligible to receive the Quebec Health Insurance Plan. Your card will be sent to you in the 14 days following that date.
How long does it take to get a RAMQ card?
You will receive your card within 14 to 30 days of applying.
If you have any questions about the Quebec Health Insurance Plan, you may be able to find help at your nearest community agency or newcomer service. Alternatively, contact RAMQ on telephone 418-646-4636, 514-864-3411 or toll-free 1-800-561-9749.