What kind of health insurance do international students get?

What kind of health insurance do international students get

Health insurance covers the medical expenses of an insured individual. It reimburses the expenses incurred due to illness or injury or pays the care provider of the insured individual directly.

If you are planning to study abroad, you should think about getting an international student health insurance plan.

Why should you get international student health insurance?

If you are a student in a foreign country, it is important that you have health insurance coverage for the duration of your course. Even if your visa does not require you to possess a health insurance plan, your institution will insist on it. Before accepting your admission, universities and colleges request proof of your overseas health insurance.

There are several more reasons for getting international student health insurance:

  • No government sponsored healthcare: more often than not government-funded healthcare is not valid or available for international students. Also, generally healthcare costs are high and may increase on an annual basis. So, if you do not have health insurance, and you suffer a medical emergency, you would be paying those hospital bills for a long time.
  • Less expenditure: even if you have a health insurance, you will have to pay a certain amount out of your pocket during a medical emergency. The amount paid comprises of taxes and deductibles. However, this amount is nothing compared to what you would have to pay if you did not have health insurance. For example, if you do not have health insurance, an MRI scan could cost you anywhere between $900 CAD and $2,400 CAD (According to Canadian Magnetic Imagining).
  • Doctor discount: you could be charged high doctor consultation fees if you do not have a health insurance plan. This is because insurance companies usually have tie-ups with doctors, allowing you to pay much lower consultation fees.

You should also have an idea about the standardized features of international health insurance plans, which are:

  • Dedicated benefits: students insurance plans often cover pre-existing injuries, mental health, sports, injuries, maternity expenses, hospitalization, and prescriptions.
  • Absence of family coverage: these plans are specialized insurance plans for students, hence they do not include coverage for any family members. In case family members are travelling with a student, the health insurance plan would cost higher, covering both – the student and the family member. Another option for family members is to take a travel medical plan.
  • Renewing of insurance coverage: international student insurance plans provide students with insurance that covers their study duration. This helps students as they only have to purchase a single insurance plan for the entire duration of their stay.
  • Lower insurance premiums: since students are young and healthy, the premiums for their insurance plans are more affordable in nature. The payment of these premiums can be broken down and paid throughout the duration of the students’ stay.

How much does health insurance cost for international students in Canada?

International students studying in Canada have to avail health insurance as it been made mandatory by Canadian universities and colleges. Health insurance in Canada for international students varies from location to location, and it also depends upon the insurance firm.

As per the Canada Insurance Plan, the average yearly premium for obtaining a health insurance ranges from $600 CAD to $900 CAD. Some of the insurance firms that students could approach for health insurance are:

  • Manulife Financial;
  • TuGo;
  • Allianz Global;
  • Sun Life;
  • Ingle International;
  • Cowan Insurance Group;
  • Greenshield.

The insurance plans from these firms include some common benefits (however, the limit of each benefit varies from plan to plan) such as:

  • Hospital expenses and accommodation;
  • Physician charges;
  • Private nurse;
  • Prescription drugs;
  • Paramedical services;
  • Diagnostic services;
  • Trauma counselling;
  • Medical appliances;
  • Treatment of dental accident;
  • Psychiatric treatment.

Types of international insurance plans

International students can choose a particular insurance plan that suits them, after examining the various types of insurances on offer, such as:

  • International student health insurance: this is meant for students who are pursuing their education in another country. This insurance type offers benefits such as emergency medical evacuation, mental health, and sports injuries.
  • International travel medical insurance: this form of insurance is meant for those people who are travelling abroad. This plan is usually valid for two years and can be used as a supplement to a medical insurance plan that is already in place. This plan provides emergency medical evacuation as one of its key benefits. The features of such insurance plans are given below:
    • Worldwide coverage;
    • Greater coverage at affordable amounts;
    • Travel related advantages such as misplaced luggage and documentation assistance;
    • Travel assistance in the form of money transfers and concierge services;
    • Coverage for family and dependents.
  • International major medical insurance: this is a long-term plan meant for those people who are living outside their country for at least a year. This is an annually renewable plan that provides coverage for individuals and their families. This plan includes features such as:
    • High policy amounts;
    • Flexible coverage options;
    • Long-term coverage;
    • Pre-existing conditions or injuries coverage;
    • Childbirth coverage.

What are the Benefits of International Student Health Insurance?

Health insurance is often required in Canada for international students. Before coming to Canada, international students should review their insurance coverage in detail to learn what is and is not covered. It’s important to note that international student health insurance policies can have different coverage and perks based on the provider and the policy. Here are some of the common health benefits that may be offered to international students:

  • Emergency medical care: International student health insurance plans normally cover the price of emergency medical care, including transportation, in the event of an emergency.
  • Vaccinations: The cost of routine immunizations and vaccinations may be covered by some insurance policies.
  • Doctor visits: Most Canadian health insurance policies for international students cover the cost of routine check-ups and other medical care.
  • Hospitalizations: If an international student needs to stay in the hospital, their health insurance may pay for everything during their stay.
  • Mental health services: Some insurance policies for international students studying in Canada cover mental health services like therapy or counselling.

How to apply for student health insurance in Canada?

The rules and regulations for medical insurance in Canada vary from one province to another. Some of these provinces provide health insurance coverage to international students as well. If you have obtained admission in a university present in any of these provinces, you need to apply for health insurance by accessing the said province’s website, filling an application form, and paying the premium amount.

On the other hand, if a province does not provide health insurance, you will have to take an overseas medical insurance plan from a private firm, before leaving for Canada. In this case, you will need to contact an insurance firm, choose the plan that suits your requirements, fill a detailed application form, undergo a medical test, and pay the premium amount.


  1.  Is health insurance free in Canada?
    Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system, however, there are still expenses involved, such as co-payments for prescription drugs and certain medical treatments.
  2.  How many months do you need to live in Canada to get free healthcare?
    It’s important to note that each province and territory in Canada has its own residency requirements before you are entitled to health care coverage. In most cases, you need to have lived in a province for at least three months, but in some provinces, you can get your health card right away.
  3.  Is health insurance mandatory for a Canada student visa?
    In order to obtain a student visa, international students are normally required to have health insurance coverage for the duration of their studies in Canada.
  4.  What happens if you have no health insurance in Canada?
    You may be liable for the full cost of your medical care if you do not have health insurance in Canada, which could lead to a significant financial burden.
  5.  Do international students get free healthcare in Canada?
    Some provinces provide free or discounted provincial health insurance to certain overseas students. International students are usually required to apply to the province in such circumstances.

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