Canada’s national health care system, called Medicare, is a federal, universal, single-payer system, governed and delivered by the provinces and territories. Medicare provides first-dollar coverage for hospital and physician services. Most services, however, are provided by the private sector. Under each province’s regulation, citizens receive these services without cost; other benefits include portability between provinces and low-cost prescription drugs. Each province decides for itself the level of "supplementary" benefits that it will provide, such as vision care, cosmetic procedures, and prescription drug coverage.

Three quarters of the population have private supplemental health insurance, which cover these supplementary benefits when they are not fully provided by their provincial/territorial health plan. In Canada, virtually all dental care and most vision care is provided and funded privately. Private plans also cover additional out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

Drugs that are prescribed and consumed in hospitals are covered by provincial and territorial governments, through their public insurance plans or, alternatively, through direct financing of hospitals. Drugs consumed anywhere outside a hospital setting, however, are only partially subsidized by the public sector. Provincial and territorial drug plans, rather than being universal, tend to target vulnerable groups, such as the poor, the elderly, and the very sick. In addition, these drug plans often do not always cover the full cost of drugs. In certain cases, patients are charged a copayment or deductible. Private sector plans will pay drug costs for enrollees that are not covered by their provincial/territorial plans.

Private spending for insurance, drugs, and out-of-pocket expenses totals 30% of Canada’s annual health care spending. The private healthcare participation level varies greatly from one province or territory to another, because the health plans in different jurisdictions cover different services, to different levels, from one another. In 2007 out-of-pocket payments represented 15% of all health care expenditures, and private health insurance, either purchased by individuals or families or provided by employers represented 13% of health care spending.

  • Population:

    36.3 million(2016, World Bank)

  • GDP:

    $1,530 billion(2016, World Bank, USD)

  • Healthcare Spending:

    $159 billion(2016, Brocair estimate, USD)

  • Healthcare Spending as % of GDP:

    10.4%(2014, World Bank)

  • Annual Healthcare Spending Per Capita:

    $4,380(2016, Brocair estimate, USD)