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When you first arrive in Manitoba as a new immigrant, there are lots of tasks that need to be tackled during your first days and weeks in your new home. Unpacking, settling into a new job, and getting your children accustomed to the new neighbourhood are just the first steps. The next step should be securing your Manitoba health card.
Like the rest of Canada, Manitoba offers publicly funded healthcare to all its citizens and legal residents. You do not have to be born here to enjoy the benefits of this service, but you do have to file an application and obtain a Manitoba health card with a Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN), which will allow you to access healthcare throughout the province.
In Manitoba, all healthcare is administered by the Insured Benefits Branch of Manitoba Health and Seniors Care (MHSC). To access MHSC, first you need to get your Manitoba health card.
Although the application for a Manitoba health card is simple and straightforward, it does require documentation that can take several weeks to access. There is also a mandatory waiting period, which can delay access to Manitoba health care for up to 3 months following your arrival in the province. That’s why so many newcomers to Canada seek out private health insurance that covers them until their Manitoba health card arrives.
This private health insurance can be accessed easily through companies like our insurance partner Cigna. Through their site, you can get a free quote for health insurance that meets your needs in minutes.
Learning about Manitoba health care for new immigrants
In Manitoba, health care and related services are overseen by the Department of Health and Seniors Care. Like in most other provinces, all medically required services are covered under Manitoba’s health care coverage, regardless of whether they take place in a hospital, at a doctor’s office, in a personal care home, or elsewhere. It’s not the location, but the service that matters.
These covered services include:
- Physicians’ services
- Laboratory services
Additionally, there are certain services always covered within a hospital, including:
- Accommodations and meals
- All medications administered in hospital
- Dietetic counselling
- Physiotherapy, speech, and occupational therapy
Your Manitoba health card also covers certain necessary optometry services, chiropractic visits (to a limit of 7 per year), and necessary dental surgeries that take place in a hospital setting.
If you live in northern Manitoba, you may also be eligible for a transportation subsidy that will help defray some of the costs of seeking medical care when you live above the 53rd parallel. In these situations, all travel and care must be approved by a physician before it can be covered under the subsidy.
Determining your eligibility for a Manitoba health card
All legal newcomers to Canada are eligible to obtain a Manitoba health card, which will cover necessary medical costs. To get your Manitoba health card, all you have to do is prove that you are in the country legally and show that you intend to make Manitoba your permanent home for at least 183 days of the year.
After your application is complete, you will be eligible for coverage on the 1st day of your 3rd month following your arrival in Canada.
Applying for your Manitoba health card
Fortunately, Manitoba Health and Senior Care make it easy to apply for your Manitoba health card as a newcomer. Currently, many registration offices are closed to in-person applications due to COVID-19, but it’s easy to apply via email, fax, mail, or over the phone. You can find the application form here.
To apply for your Manitoba health card, simply fill out the application form and attach your supporting documents. You will need to provide proof of legal status in Canada, as well as proof of residency in Manitoba. These documents need to be photocopied – do not send the originals.
It can be challenging for many newcomers to provide proof of residency when applying for a Manitoba health card, especially if their first weeks are spent in transitional housing. Fortunately, there are other forms of documentation you can provide, including:
- A valid Manitoba driver’s license
- Your motor vehicle registration
- A home or tenant insurance policy
- A utility bill from the last 2 months
It typically takes between 4 to 6 weeks to process Manitoba health card applications. Applying as soon as you can get your documents together will help you receive health coverage as early as possible.
Preparing for your arrival in Manitoba
Getting your documents together to apply for your Manitoba health card can take weeks. During that time, it’s unwise to be entirely without health insurance coverage. Although Manitoba Health and Senior Care will still provide services before you get your card, you will be responsible for the whole bill yourself. This is an expense that can be devastating, especially during your first weeks and months in a new country.
You can protect yourself from the stress of unexpected expenses by securing private health insurance coverage before you arrive in Manitoba.
Moving2Canada’s trusted partner Cigna serves the Manitoba newcomer community by providing flexible, inexpensive private health insurance. You can apply, get approved, and start your coverage within minutes.
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