How health insurance works in Alberta
Understanding how health insurance works can be challenging. We want to help explain it to you in a simple and easy-to-understand way.
In Alberta, some health expenses are covered by the government while others are not—and those costs must be paid out-of-pocket. A benefit plan is health coverage that protects you from health expenses that the government does not cover for most individuals. Some examples include prescription drugs, dental services and eye exams.
The concept is simple: a large number of people pay premiums (set monthly amounts) for supplementary benefit coverage, and when they have expenses, they are reimbursed through their plan. This not only helps individuals budget for everyday health-related expenses, but provides valuable financial protection in the event of an unexpected injury, illness or medical condition.
How to choose the right Quality Health Insurance in Alberta
Making a decision on health coverage should be based on more than just the monthly premium. Each individual or business has unique needs in terms of what coverage works for them.
There a significant difference among plans and plan providers, but choosing the right health coverage is not as difficult as it seems.
Alberta has a publicly administered and funded health care system that ensures Albertans receive universal access to medically necessary hospital and health care services. This plan, called the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), covers health care costs such as doctor provided medical services, diagnostic services (for example x-rays), and hospital accommodation. All new and returning residents must apply for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan coverage.
You are eligible for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) coverage if you are:
legally entitled to be in and remain in Canada and make your permanent home in Alberta
committed to being physically present in Alberta for at least 183 days in any 12-month period
not claiming residency or obtaining benefits under a claim of residency in another province, territory or country
any other person deemed by the regulations to be a resident or temporary resident, not including a tourist, transient or visitor to Alberta
Individuals moving to Alberta from another country who have an immigration document from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada may be eligible for AHCIP coverage depending on the type of document, any restrictions.
Non-eligible residents include:
members of the Canadian Armed Forces
federal penitentiary inmates
refused or failed refugee claimants
people with expired immigration documents
Canadian Armed Forces and federal penitentiary inmates receive coverage from the federal government.
Dependants of these non-eligible residents who reside in Alberta must be registered with the AHCIP.
Canadian children of refugee claimants, refused or failed refugee claimants, and those with expired immigration documents may be entitled to coverage under the AHCIP providing they reside in Alberta and meet specific requirements.
married spouses – must register together
spouses – may register together or separately
divorced spouses – must register separately
adult interdependent partners – may register together or separately
single children under the age of 21 and wholly dependent on the parent(s), including adopted children, foster children (if an income tax deduction was claimed) and wards of the court
in cases of separation or divorce, the custodial parent registers the children
in cases of joint custody, children are registered on the account of one or the other parent, but not both, as agreed to by both parents
single children who are 21 years of age or older and wholly dependent on their parent(s) because of physical or mental disabilities
single children who are under 25 years of age and in full-time attendance at an accredited educational institute
When you move to Alberta from another province or country, there may be a waiting period before you become eligible for coverage under the AHCIP.
If you move to Alberta from another country, and have an immigration document from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, you may be eligible for AHCIP coverage.
How to apply
Step 1: Complete the application form
Download the application form for AHCIP coverage (PDF, 200 KB).
For Canadian children of non-eligible parents
Application form for AHCIP Coverage: Canadian Children of Non-Eligible Parents (PDF, 169 KB).
Only use this form to apply for AHCIP coverage for your Canadian child if you are the child’s parent, you are physically present in Alberta, and you, the parent, are not eligible for AHCIP coverage.
AHCIP forms are also available from a participating registry office.
Step 2. Gather your supporting documents
When you apply for AHCIP coverage, you must provide supporting documents that prove:
legal entitlement to be in and remain in Canada
Alberta residency documents include:
Alberta driver’s license
bills such as utilities and phone bills
mortgage or rental agreement
Identity documents include:
Permanent resident card (both sides)
Certificate of Indian Status issued by the Federal Government
Government issued driver’s license
Government issued registries ID card
Canadian citizenship card
Legal entitlement to be in Canada documents include:
Permanent resident card (both sides)
Certificate of Indian Status issued by the Federal Government
Canadian birth certificate
Canada entry document (for example, work or study permit)
Canadian citizenship card or certificate (both sides), permanent resident card or confirmation document or letter
If these supporting documents are not provided, your application cannot be processed.
Additional supporting documents may be requested to confirm AHCIP eligibility.
Step 3: Submit the application
Bring the completed application form and your original documents to a participating registry office. There is no charge for this service.
Processing time can take up to 5 days. Cards are mailed from the AHCIP office.
Send your completed application form and photocopies of your supporting documents to the AHCIP office:
Attention: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan
PO Box 1360, Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3
Include photocopies of supporting documents with your application. Photocopies must include front and back of the document, if applicable. Do not send original documents in the mail.
Processing time can take up to 6 weeks. This processing time may be longer between October and February.
All cards are mailed directly to you from the AHCIP office. Ensure you are providing your current mailing address.
Health care coverage for temporary residents
If you are from outside Alberta or Canada, find out if you are eligible for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) coverage.
Residents from another country
If you are from outside Canada, you must intend to live in Alberta for 12 consecutive months and have the appropriate Canada entry documents to be eligible for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) coverage.
Acceptable Canada entry documents include:
active work permit (minimum 6 months)
study or visitor permit for Alberta
designation as a Convention Refugee with accompanying documentation
Not all Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) permits qualify the permit holder for health care insurance coverage in Alberta.
Until you are eligible for AHCIP coverage, you will have to pay for all health care services you get. Learn about eligibility for AHCIP coverage.
You will not be denied emergency medical care in Alberta even if you do not have medical insurance.
Travel or visitor-to-Canada insurance
Before you come to Canada, you should purchase travel or visitor-to-Canada insurance from a private insurance company. If you are denied AHCIP coverage, we recommend you get private insurance.
If you pay for health services, you will have to apply for reimbursement from your insurance company.
Learn how to apply for AHCIP coverage.
Canadian children of parents not eligible for AHCIP coverage
If a child is a Canadian citizen and the parent is physically present in Alberta and intends to remain in Alberta, the child might be eligible for AHCIP coverage, regardless of their parent’s eligibility.
Requirements for eligible children
Children of parents not eligible for AHCIP may be eligible if:
the child has a Canadian birth certificate or Canadian citizenship card/certificate
the parent claims intent to live in Alberta for a minimum of 12 months
the parent provides proof of Alberta residency
the child is not claiming residency or obtaining benefits under a claim of residency in another province, territory, or country
the child is not a tourist, transient, or visitor to Alberta
If you and your child meet these requirements, you can apply for AHCIP coverage on your child’s behalf.
To apply, complete the Application for AHCIP Coverage: Canadian Children of Non-Eligible Parents (PDF, 169 KB) and take it to a participating registry agent with your identification.
Temporary workers from outside Alberta – Canadians or permanent residents
If you come to Alberta to work, but maintain your home in another province or territory and return home regularly, you should maintain your health insurance coverage in your home province or territory.
Temporary workers from outside Canada – Work permit
If you come to Alberta on a work permit you must intend to stay in Alberta for 12 months.
To qualify for AHCIP, the minimum acceptable work permit length is 6 months.
Learn how to apply for health coverage and the documents you need.
Expiry date on your personal health card
If you are a temporary resident from outside Canada with AHCIP coverage, there is an expiry date printed on your Alberta personal health card. It should be the same date as the ‘valid until’ date noted on your Canada entry document.
Extended work permits – Minimum 6-month permits
AHCIP coverage is valid from the date you establish residency in Alberta or the date your Canada entry document is signed, whichever is later, until the expiry date on the work permit that was included with your AHCIP application.
If your work permit has been renewed or extended, send AHCIP a copy of the new or extended work permit to extend or reinstate your AHCIP coverage. Send a copy to the AHCIP office by mail, or bring your original documents to a participating registry agent office.
If a copy of your renewed or extended work permit is not received, your AHCIP coverage will be cancelled on the expiry date noted on the previous work permit.
Expired Canada entry document
When your Canada entry document expires, your AHCIP coverage will end.
If your Canada entry document changes from a work or study permit to a visitor record, you may not be eligible for AHCIP coverage.
If you were given AHCIP coverage based on a stamp in your passport, a second stamp will not be accepted.
The AHCIP office requires a document from IRCC such as a visitor record, work or study permit or confirmation of Permanent Resident Status.
If you intend to remain in Alberta and wish to maintain your AHCIP coverage, contact IRCC to find out how long it takes to process your application.
Expired Canada entry document – Extensions
Make sure you apply early for an extension of your Canada entry document even if you have applied for permanent residency.
If your AHCIP coverage is about to expire and you are waiting for an extension of your Canada entry document, you may be eligible for a one-time only temporary extension.
Contact us before the expiration date of your Canada entry document.
AHCIP coverage does not continue with IRCC ‘implied’ status
A designation of implied status by IRCC does not make you eligible to maintain your AHCIP coverage.
You need a new Canada entry document for your AHCIP coverage to continue. In the meantime, your AHCIP coverage will be cancelled.
However, if you remain in Alberta while waiting for your IRCC document you may be eligible for a one-time only temporary extension of AHCIP coverage.
Not all Alberta visitor records are accepted for health care insurance coverage in Alberta.
Paying for health care while waiting for a new Canada entry document
While you wait for your new entry documents from IRCC, you will not be covered by AHCIP. This means you will have to pay for any health services you need.
When you get your new document from IRCC, if it has ‘restored’ or ‘maintained’ noted in the remarks area, your AHCIP coverage may be reinstated and backdated to the date your coverage was cancelled.
Send a copy of your new document to the AHCIP office.
If you were eligible for AHCIP coverage on the date an insured health service was received, you may be reimbursed for the service.
To get a reimbursement, contact the office where you received the health service, give them your personal health number and ask them to submit a claim as ‘payment to patient’.
Eligibility while waiting for permanent residency status
To be eligible for AHCIP coverage while waiting for your Permanent Resident (PR) confirmation from IRCC, you must have a valid Canada entry document or a letter from IRCC indicating a ’positive first decision’ has been made regarding your application for permanent residency. This letter is not confirmation your application was received.
If you receive a positive first decision letter from IRCC and your AHCIP was cancelled, send a copy of the document along with your completed AHCIP application and other required documents to the AHCIP office.
Your AHCIP coverage can be reinstated to the date of the positive first decision letter but not earlier. Learn how to apply for health coverage and the documents you need.
If your Canada entry document is about to expire and you have not yet received a new Canada entry document or positive first decision letter, you may be eligible for a one-time only 90-day temporary extension of your AHCIP coverage.
Apply to extend your stay in Canada as the process of being approved for PR may take several months or years.
Note, not all Canada entry documents are accepted for eligibility under the AHCIP.