In Quebec, health and social services are provided by the same government department. One of the advantages of this unique feature of life in Quebec is that all of Quebecers’ health and welfare needs can be taken care of free of charge.
Medical care is available across the province of Quebec. It is covered by the plan administered by Quebec’s health insurance board (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec/RAMQ). All residents of Quebec are eligible for the plan.
The provincial medical plan covers all essential medical care, not including certain specific treatments (e.g. plastic surgery) and parallel treatments (“soft” or alternative medicine). Before consulting any doctors or other healthcare specialists, check to make sure that they take part in the provincial health insurance plan. If they do not, you will be required to pay for the services provided out of your own pocket.
The provincial health insurance card is used to obtain healthcare services (i.e. medical and hospitalization services) covered by the Quebec medical plan.
As a general rule, individuals who settle in Quebec are covered by the plan after registering with the RAMQ and completing a three-month waiting period (also known as the “qualifying period”). However, depending on the bilateral agreements entered into by Quebec and certain countries, access to the plan may be valid upon your arrival in Quebec if you are a citizen of one of those countries. In this regard, supporting documentation is usually required; be sure to find out more before you leave your home country. Therefore, you should contact the RAMQ as soon as you arrive in Quebec so as not to delay your eligibility for the plan.
You are also strongly advised to take out private insurance to cover you during the waiting period; if you do not, you will be required to pay the cost of any healthcare services you receive out of your own pocket. In addition, temporary workers with work permits that are valid for six months or less are not entitled to provincial healthcare coverage, except for seasonal agricultural workers. Quebec residents are also required to have prescription drug insurance.
For further information on Quebec’s healthcare system: