Are you planning to settle in Nova Scotia as a newcomer? Health insurance, and finding accessible health care should be the first task you set out to accomplish in your new home. Getting a Nova Scotia health card from the Nova Scotia Health Authority shouldn’t take long, but it’s an essential step to getting settled in Canada.

In Canada, continual access to publicly funded healthcare is just one of the rights that both citizens and permanent residents enjoy. Although medical services are available country-wide, they are administered regionally by each province. 

In Nova Scotia, provincial health coverage is known as Medical Services Insurance (Nova Scotia MSI) and is administered by Medavie Blue Cross through the Nova Scotia Health Authority. In order to access Nova Scotia MSI, you have to get a Nova Scotia health card. 

Today, we’ll help you understand Nova Scotia’s Medical Services Insurance (Nova Scotia MSI) in greater depth, then show you what you need to know to apply for your new Nova Scotia health card.

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Although health care through Nova Scotia MSI is accessible to many newcomers on the first day that they arrive in the province, the application process can still take some time. For that reason, it’s wise to have private health insurance for the first days and weeks that you are in Canada. This can protect you from potentially costly fees if you need to seek medical care before your health card arrives.

This private insurance coverage can be purchased from companies like Cigna, a trusted partner of Moving2Canada. Click here to get a free quote for Cigna’s private health insurance in just minutes.

Nova Scotia MSI (Medical Services Insurance) for newcomers

All legal Nova Scotia residents are entitled to receive provincial health care, which is known as Medical Services Insurance (MSI). Nova Scotia MSI is administered through the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Under Nova Scotia MSI programs, all medically necessary hospital, medical, dental, and optometric services are covered, with some restrictions. This coverage also includes all diagnostic and laboratory services that are ordered by a doctor, as well as all necessary treatments that take place in a hospital setting.

In Nova Scotia, all routine dental care for children under the age of 14 is also covered by Nova Scotia MSI. Additionally, children under 10, and adults over the age of 64 are entitled to one eye examination every two years.

However, certain optional, paramedical, and long-term services are not covered under MSI. Some services that are not covered by Nova Scotia MSI include:

  • Ambulance services (residents pay a $142.50 flat rate)
  • Podiatry
  • Massage therapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Vision care
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Hearing aids

Determining your eligibility for a Nova Scotia health card

Every legal permanent resident is eligible to receive a Nova Scotia health card, which offers them access to all health care administered by Nova Scotia MSI. To demonstrate your eligibility, you must be able to show that you are a legal resident of Canada and that you intend to make your permanent home in Nova Scotia at least 183 days of the year.

If you are absent from the province for more than 7 months out of a calendar year, you are not eligible to receive Nova Scotia MSI.  

How to apply for your Nova Scotia health card as a new immigrant

To apply for your Nova Scotia health card, you must contact Nova Scotia MSI Registration directly, either by mail, email, or over the phone. In the past, individuals could visit the head office in Dartmouth, but that location is currently closed to in-person appointments due to COVID-19.

Since there is no application form available online, you will need to contact the Nova Scotia MSI Registration office directly and follow their instructions as to what paperwork you will need to send in to verify your eligibility.

Preparing for your arrival in Nova Scotia  

Unlike many other provinces, Nova Scotia MSI does not have a waiting period that prevents new immigrants from obtaining health care during their first months in Canada. However, given that the Nova Scotia health card application may take some time, it’s always wise to prepare for this situation by seeking out private health insurance that is valid from your first day in the country.

This private insurance can help ensure you are protected while you wait for your Nova Scotia health card application to be processed and delivered. Otherwise, you could be forced to pay large out-of-pocket medical bills if you get sick, ill, or injured.

Moving2Canada’s trusted partner Cigna has a variety of different health insurance packages for newcomers to Nova Scotia. Explore their plans to see which is right for your needs, or submit your details to get a free quote today.