Quebec's Health Insurance Plan is a public plan that gives all Quebecers access to free health care. The plan is managed by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (health insurance board), also known as the "RAMQ".
The Health Insurance Plan isn't the only public program that covers health care. Quebecers also benefit from this coverage:
- a public drug insurance plan
- hospital insurance
For more information on services covered under these programs, visit the RAMQ website.
You can also get insurance coverage under a private plan, either individually or under a group plan through your employer. For more information, see our article Accident, Illness and Disability Insurance.
Health Care Covered by the Health Insurance Plan
The Quebec Health Insurance Plan covers a wide range of medical care, including almost all medically necessary care provided by a family doctor, general practitioner or specialist.
Aside from a few rare exceptions, the plan covers medical care no matter where it is offered:
- private clinic
- local community service centre (CLSC)
- residential and long-term care centre (CHSLD)
- rehabilitation centre
- patient's home
Aside from medical care, some dental care (for teeth) and optometry (for eyes) is covered by the Health Insurance Plan.
To learn more about what the plan covers, visit the website of the RAMQ.
Since most doctors are part of the Health Insurance Plan, patients who are registered under the plan get free health care covered by the plan.
But some doctors aren’t part of the plan. They are called “non-participating physicians.” Their patients must pay for the health care they receive.
Other doctors have “withdrawn” from the Health Insurance Plan. Their patients must send the RAMQ the form they get after a visit to the doctor, get reimbursed by the RAMQ, then pay the doctor. To learn more about getting a reimbursement, visit the RAMQ website.
Non-participating doctors and doctors who have withdrawn must tell their patients about this in writing.
The RAMQ website has a list of non-participating physicians or physicians who have withdrawn.
Care Received While Travelling Outside Quebec
If you are registered under the Health Insurance Plan, you can ask the RAMQ for a refund for care you got outside Quebec, as long as the care is covered by the plan. However, since the cost of care is generally higher outside Quebec, the RAMQ usually refunds only part of what you paid.
So, if you are going on vacation outside Quebec, you might want to buy medical travel insurance to cover costs not refunded by the RAMQ.
Finally, if you leave Quebec specifically to get care somewhere else, other rules might apply. For example, if you want to get a refund, you might have to get authorization from the RAMQ before getting the care.
To learn more about the rules for care outside Quebec, visit the website of the RAMQ.
People Covered by the Health Insurance Plan
Duty to Register Under the Health Insurance Plan
Everyone who is eligible for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan has a duty to register under the plan. They also have a duty to register their dependents (for example, their children).
People who come to live in Quebec are eligible under the Health Insurance Plan. People who come to Quebec from another Canadian province become eligible as soon as they are no longer covered under the plan of the province they come from. People who come to Quebec from another country become eligible for the Health Insurance Plan after a waiting period of up to three months after they arrive.
These people living in Quebec temporarily are also eligible under the Quebec Health Insurance Plan:
- people from other countries who come to Quebec to work and have the required authorization from Quebec and Canadian authorities
- people from other countries who come to study or train under an official scholarship program of Quebec
- Canadian citizens living in other countries who come back to Quebec to work for more than six months
These people are not eligible under the Quebec Health Insurance Plan:
- tourists and people travelling through Quebec
- students from another Canadian province studying in Quebec
- people seeking refugee status in Canada. These people might be covered by the Interim Federal Health Program.
Visit the website of the RAMQ to see a complete list of people who are eligible and those who are not eligible under the Quebec Health Insurance Plan.
How to Register Under the Quebec Health Insurance Plan
In most cases, you can register for the plan by filling out a registration form that you can get from the RAMQ.
Children born in Quebec are automatically registered when their birth is declared to the registrar of civil status.
Once the registration form is accepted, the RAMQ sends you a health insurance card often called a “medicare card”.
This card gives you access to free health care covered by the plan. You need to show it when you visit a health professional.
To learn more about registering for the plan, visit the website of the RAMQ.
Important: If You Leave Quebec
You must live in Quebec more than 182 days of the year to be covered by the plan. You are usually allowed short trips outside Quebec of 21 days or less without losing your coverage.
But if you have come to live in Quebec from somewhere else to work, study or do training and are registered under the plan, you could lose the right to use your health insurance card if you leave the province for more than 21 days.
If you leave Quebec for more than half the year, you will no longer be covered by the plan. You usually have to register again under the plan once you’re back in the province. You also have to refund the RAMQ for the care you received during the year that was paid for by the RAMQ, whether you were treated in Quebec or outside the province.
In some cases, a person can live outside Quebec for more than 182 days and still be covered by the plan. An example is a student enrolled in a Quebec school who lives outside Quebec under a student exchange program.
For more information and to find out about exceptions to the rules, visit the website of the RAMQ.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.