Universal Hearing Health Care: Canada Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and three territories. Although health care provision is the responsibility of the individual province or territory, government-funded universal health care is available to every person in Canada. The Canada Health Act ensures public administration of health care on a nonprofit basis, comprehensive services, ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   December 01, 2008
Universal Hearing Health Care: Canada
Author Notes
  • George T. Mencher, PhD, is assistant secretary general of the International Society of Audiology and professor of audiology at Dalhousie University School of Human Communication Disorders in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Contact him at gtmisa@yahoo.com.
    George T. Mencher, PhD, is assistant secretary general of the International Society of Audiology and professor of audiology at Dalhousie University School of Human Communication Disorders in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Contact him at gtmisa@yahoo.com.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / World Beat
World Beat   |   December 01, 2008
Universal Hearing Health Care: Canada
The ASHA Leader, December 2008, Vol. 13, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.WB5.13172008.17
The ASHA Leader, December 2008, Vol. 13, 17. doi:10.1044/leader.WB5.13172008.17
Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and three territories. Although health care provision is the responsibility of the individual province or territory, government-funded universal health care is available to every person in Canada. The Canada Health Act ensures public administration of health care on a nonprofit basis, comprehensive services, universal coverage, and portability of benefits. Medically necessary services are provided at no charge and no resident can be denied care based on age, income, health status, or geographic location. Canadians may go to a physician, hospital, or clinic of their choice at no charge, as the provider bills the provincial health plan directly, and there is no co-pay, deductible, or dollar limit on services.
Treatment for any medical disorder such as otitis media is free, as are cochlear implants. Although hospital-based care and most outpatient services are covered, some variability exists among provinces. For example, most provinces have adopted a universal newborn hearing screening protocol, but not all programs are completely funded. It’s possible to receive free audiological services but the provision of hearing aids varies.
Throughout Canada anyone under age 16 can receive hearing aids free or at wholesale cost. If the aid is not provided free or the parents cannot afford the wholesale cost, a service club often will provide financial assistance. Worker’s compensation, the veterans’ program, and other groups provide aids to adults free or at a significantly reduced rate following an evaluation by a qualified audiologist at a provincially funded clinic or by an approved private provider.
Most Canadians, including senior citizens, carry a supplemental health plan that normally covers a private hospital room (as opposed to a two- or four-bed room), prescription drugs on a co-share basis (usually about $5–$10 for the patient), and other services. Often the plan includes a fixed amount (usually $300–$500) that can be applied toward the cost of a hearing aid (or two) every three or four years. At a provincially funded clinic, an audiologist will provide free services and recommend a specific hearing aid that the patient purchases through the private sector or at the clinic through supplemental insurance. The other option is to go to a private-sector clinic. Payment for the hearing aid is the same; the cost of audiological services increases but the waiting time for an appointment decreases.
The Canadian health care system is not perfect. Like all government-funded programs, the system is subject to annual budgetary aches and pains. Some years services grow rapidly and some years their growth stalls. It may take several days or weeks to see a specialist. However, the system offers quality health care, including audiology and speech-language pathology services, as both professions are recognized in the health care system for every legal resident of Canada, including students with visas, immigrants, citizens, and those with work permits.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
December 2008
Volume 13, Issue 17