One of the most important aspects of getting settled in Alberta is health care. Although every province in Canada offers publicly-funded healthcare that covers most medically necessary services, all immigrants and newcomers must apply to be eligible. Today, we’ll guide you through the application process for Alberta health care, and show you what you need to know to secure your Alberta health card. 

The process of applying for health care in Canada may feel complex, but it doesn’t need to be. Each province administers its own health care, so you only need to learn the regulations for your region. In Alberta, health care is offered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP).

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The process of applying for Alberta health care is simple and straightforward, but like many places in Canada, it does require a waiting period before coverage begins and newcomers can get an Alberta health card.

During this time, many newcomers to Alberta carry private health insurance coverage. Without it, you may be liable for any medical services used, including in the event of an emergency. Private insurance offers much-needed peace of mind, allowing you to get back to the business of settling into your new home.

Finding the right private health insurance doesn’t need to be stressful. Start by getting a quote from our trusted partner Cigna. They offer free quotes, making it easy to purchase the health insurance coverage you need in minutes.   

Alberta health care (AHCIP) for newcomers

In Alberta, all legal residents are entitled to health care that is administered as part of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). Alberta Health Care, AHCIP, covers all medically necessary services, including some dental and oral surgical health services. In Alberta, a patient’s doctor is responsible for determining when a procedure or service is medically necessary.

Additionally, some podiatry and optometry services as well as specialized dental and maxillofacial surgery may be covered in whole or part. For example, all Alberta residents under 18 and over 65 years of age are eligible to receive one complete eye exam, a partial eye exam, and one diagnostic procedure through Alberta Health Care every benefit year.

Determining your eligibility for Alberta Health Care (AHCIP)

All legal immigrants to Canada, including temporary foreign workers and students, are eligible for public Alberta Health Care if they intend to make this province their full-time residence for at least 12 months. During that first 12 months, newcomers must be present in Alberta for at least 183 days. Immigrants must also not claim residency or health benefits from any other province, territory, or country.

In addition to legal immigrants who enter using work or family-based visas, Alberta Health Care (AHCIP) is available to refugees and their dependents who carry documentation from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, and are committed to living in Alberta for 12 or more consecutive months.

Applying for your Alberta health card as a new immigrant

All newcomers to Alberta must register for health insurance with AHCIP within the first three months of their residency to ensure that they receive Alberta Health Care in a timely manner. To apply, download and fill out the application form, then submit the application with all supporting documents either in-person or by mail.

Applications for Alberta Health Care filed in person must be processed by an authorized registry agent. There, the registry agent will look over your original supporting documents and return them to you that day. If your documents are not in English, you must offer a written translation that has been translated by a government-approved translator. On average, applications that are filed in-person are processed within 5 days.

If you choose to mail in your forms, you must include photocopies of your supporting documents, not the originals. Processing by mail takes approximately 6 weeks.

Staying safe during your first months in Alberta

After you file your Alberta health card application, there is a waiting period that ends on the 1st day of the 3rd month after you have established residency. However, some individuals may be eligible for reimbursement if they paid for an insured health service during this period.

In your first chaotic days in a new country, it can be challenging to determine what is eligible for reimbursement, especially if you’ve had a sudden illness or injury. To help simplify things, most newcomers purchase private health insurance to protect themselves before they receive their Alberta health card.

In addition to reimbursing services typically covered by Alberta Health Care (AHCIP), private insurance (depending on the type you purchase) can also be extended to pay for expenses that are not generally covered by public health insurance, such as prescription drugs.

Moving2Canada’s trusted partner Cigna offers many different health insurance options for newcomers. Get a free quote today, then explore their plans to see which is right for your needs.