Canada's healthcare system is very similar to the model practiced in countries like Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom, with universality as one of its pillars. Therefore, the entire population of that country is covered by the public health system.
Canada's public health system is called Medicare and is equivalent to Brazil's Unified Health System (SUS). It is noteworthy that in the USA there is also Medicare, however, in the United States this system is intended for people aged 65 years or older, or who meet some criteria imposed by the system.
Canada's Medicare refers to that country's publicly funded healthcare system. Despite this, there is not only a national plan, because Canada is divided into provinces. Currently, there are 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans. The functions and responsibilities of health services are shared between the provincial and territorial governments and the federal government.
Canada Health Act
The Canada Health Act (CHA or The Act) is Canada's federal legislation for publicly funded health insurance. The law establishes the main objective of Canadian health policy, which is:
"Protect, promote, and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."
Provincial and territorial health insurance plans must meet the standards described in the Canadian Health Act, a requirement to obtain full payment under Canada Health Transfer. These standards include:
Public administration: Provincial and territorial plans must be managed and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority.
Scope: Provincial and territorial plans must ensure all necessary health services provided by hospitals, doctors, and dentists (the latter only when the service is performed in a hospital environment).
Universality: Provincial and territorial plans must cover all residents of the country.
Portability: Even if you are traveling outside your province, there is still coverage for any health expenses you may have, including international travel. In the event of a change of address (from one province to another), the resident can continue to use his original health insurance card for up to 3 months, the deadline was given so that he can enroll in the new plan and receive his new health insurance card.
Accessibility: Provincial and territorial plans must provide all residents with reasonable access to the necessary medical services. Access depends on the patient's medical needs, not on the ability to pay.
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Canada's healthcare system consists of 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans. These plans are administered individually on a provincial or territorial basis, following the guidelines established by the federal government and the health insurance legislation of each province and territory.
Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the management, organization, and provision of health services for their residents. The federal government is responsible for:
- Define and manage national health system standards through the Canadian Health Act;
- Provide financial support for provincial and territorial health services;
- Support the provision of health services to specific groups;
- Provide other health-related functions.
Provision of health services to specific groups
The federal government offers some direct health services to specific groups of the population, including people from First Nations who live on reserves, members serving Canadian Forces, eligible veterans, federal prison inmates, some groups of refugees or claimants, and the Inuit.
The Inuit are a group culturally similar to the indigenous peoples that inhabit the arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska (United States). In Canada, sections 25 and 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act classify the Inuit as a distinct group of Canadian aborigines who are not included in either the First Nations or the Métis.
Family doctor, Walk-in clinic and Hospital
All people using Canada's health care system must be accompanied by a Family doctor (the family doctor). If a consultation with a specialist doctor is necessary, the patient must first go to the family doctor, who will refer him to the professional of the desired specialty.
In Canada, there are also Walk-in clinics, which are fast-care clinics, similar to health centers in Brazil. If the patient does not have a family doctor, he/she can go to the nearest Walk-in clinic, where visits are made on a first-come, first-served basis, and the focus is on non-emergency care, such as colds, nausea, minor injuries, etc.
At Walk-in clinics, care is provided by a family doctor. If a specialist is needed, the family doctor will refer you. If the family doctor asks the patient for an exam, just fill out a form and the health system covers all possible expenses. When the exam is ready, it is not sent directly to the patient, but the doctor. Canada's hospitals are intended for emergencies only, where care is provided according to the severity of the patient's illness or accident.