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The Local Healthcare Insurance System in Quebec

The healthcare insurance system in Quebec is administered by the Ministry of Health and social services. This public health scheme is funded via income taxes. It gives all citizens free access to basic medical and hospital care through the health insurance card, also known as “carte soleil” (sun card). This card is issued by the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ) within three months following the application for registration. Please note that there is a three-month waiting period during which you will support all the expenses. However, agreements have been entered with Denmark, Finland, France, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and Sweden in order to receive reimbursement if medical services are provided during the waiting period. For this, you will have to provide the RAMQ with a certificate of enrollment with the healthcare system of one of the countries above mentioned.


Some treatments are not covered by the healthcare system like dental or orthopedic care. This is why it is necessary to take out private health insurance.


To find out more about the healthcare system in Quebec, please go to:

Doctors’ visits in Quebec

GPs in Quebec

There are different categories of doctors in Quebec:

  • GPs who accept the health insurance card: you do not have to make cash advances and the doctor will be paid directly by the RAMQ.
  • Doctors called “opted out doctors”: in this case, you have to pay the consultation and send the bill to the RAMQ in order to be reimbursed.
  • Doctors called “nonparticipating doctors” who do not accept the health insurance card: you will have to support all the expenses and the RAMQ will not reimburse any consultation.

It is therefore important to check the type of doctor you will visit beforehand in order to avoid unpleasant situations. You can find the list of “opted out” and “non-participating” doctors issued by the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ) by clicking here.


Doctors see their patients from Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 4.00 – 6.00 pm and on Saturday morning. They speak French and often English too.


There are not enough doctors in Quebec and waiting times to get an appointment may sometimes be very long, as is the case in the other provinces of Canada.


Specialist doctors in Quebec:

If you need specific treatment, your GP will refer you to a specialist doctor.

As there are only a few specialist doctors, waiting times to get an appointment are often very long.

This is why it is recommended that you go directly to an optician for a simple eye examination in order to avoid long waiting times. He/she will perform the necessary examination and will advise you on the appropriate eyeglasses. However, for most serious cases such as cataract, you will have to book an appointment with an ophthalmologist.

Being admitted to the hospital in Quebec

Hospitals in Quebec Basic care may be provided in public hospitals but waiting times are often long. Emergency services Emergency services are open 24 hours a day in most hospitals but waiting times are also long. The most serious cases will be taken care of in priority. The walk-in clinics In Quebec there are walk-in clinics that generally operate during working hours, as is the case in the other Canadian provinces. If you have trouble finding a GP, these clinics provide basic care and consultations without a prior appointment. As they are much appreciated, waiting times may be long. However, consultation fees are not higher than those of GPs. In case of emergency, call 911

Buying drugs in Quebec

Over-the-counter drugs may be bought in supermarkets whereas prescription drugs must be bought in specific shops.

Drugs are delivered on a personalized basis: you will receive the exact number of drugs needed depending on how long your treatment is.

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Petra was very worried about the surgery she'd been prescribed following an accident at home. Before making her decision, she wanted a second opinion. Thanks to her private health insurance, which included the Second Medical Opinion guarantee, she quickly saw another doctor and got all the answers to her questions. The second doctor agreed that surgery was necessary and Petra went to hospital feeling reassured and confident.
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