Health Insurance for International Students: What You Need to Know

Each year hundreds of thousands of students come to Canada to study. But while Canadians have access to provincial health care plans, international students do not.

This does not mean you cannot go to the doctor while in Canada. It just means you may have to use private insurance or private funds, in order to do so. Some schools have created a solution by offering health insurance plans. These plans don't cover everything, however, and many students choose to supplement their coverage on their own with an international student travel insurance policy.

Am I Eligible for OHIP?

OHIP stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan, which covers everyone in the province—as long as they are citizens, permanent residents, here on a work permit, or fall into another category. International students are not eligible for OHIP. Each province works a bit differently, but international students typically cannot access government insurance while studying in Canada.

What About My School?

Many schools have their own insurance plans. They often make them mandatory for international students during their program enrollment. An example is UHIP, the University Health Insurance Program in Ontario. Costs for UHIP are added into student fees, which means you might not have no choice to participate. UHIP generally covers the same services as OHIP.

Do I Need to Buy Insurance?

As an international student in Canada you are not required by the government to buy health insurance. When you get to the country, however, you may want to do so because paying out-of-pocket for health services can get very expensive. While you are studying, you may want to travel across Canada or to the U.S. and you may need a safety net in case you get sick.

There are two main situations for international students: they are covered by school programs such as UHIP, or they have no coverage at all. In both cases, buying insurance is a good idea.

First, a program like UHIP does not cover everything. It won't pay for your eye care, dental care, or even most prescription drugs. Extra insurance can give you protection for these kinds of costs, saving you money in the long run. Because of these limitations, many people in Ontario -- including those covered by OHIP -- choose to have supplementary insurance.

Second, choosing to do without insurance may be risky. Seeing a doctor for even a minor illness could get expensive. If you are in an accident, you may have to go to a hospital. These costs add up quickly and it may not be a cost you or your family have considered in the cost of an education. By having a plan in place, you don't have to worry.

How to Choose Student Insurance in Canada

Finding the right insurance plan doesn’t have to be hard. Compare quotes from many providers at once for international students health insurance at This will give you a list of options for different plans and the costs associated with each. Here are some things to look for:

  • emergency hospitalization and medical care;
  • Prescriptions as the result of an emergency;
  • Ambulance transport during an emergency;
  • Emergency dental work;
  • Diagnostic testing like x-rays and bloodwork.

These are the minimum you will want in your insurance policy. But you have the choice between a standard policy which covers emergencies, and an enhanced policy that offers additional benefits. An enhanced policy may cover more so your expenses are reduced.

Finding the right coverage is easy with You can get international students medical insurance quotes using our online tool. With the right insurance, you can focus on your studies, instead of worrying about getting sick.