Healthcare in Nova Scotia, Canada
Nova Scotia is a province in eastern Canada. With a population of 923,598 as of 2016, it is the most populous of Canada’s three Maritime provinces and four Atlantic provinces. The life expectancy for those born in Nova Scotia from 2016 to 2018 is 80.5 years.
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Canada has been rated one of the best places to live because of its health care program. All residents of Canada have access to medical care. In Canada, health care is publicly funded by both the federal and provincial governments. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Nova Scotia received $999 million from the Canada Health Transfer.
Nova Scotia’s Health Insurance Programs
Nova Scotia’s Medical Services Insurance (MSI) is the provincial plan. You can also apply for private health care insurance on your own.
Nova Scotia’s Health Insurance Programs – Medical Services Insurance Programs and the Hospital Insurance Program – are designed to provide residents with coverage for:
- Standard level accommodations and meals in hospitals
- Hospital visits and stays including in-hospital physiotherapy, nursing, and care
- Doctor visits
- Medically necessary dental and optometric services (e.g. surgical removal of impacted teeth)
- Laboratory and other diagnostic services (e.g. X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, etc.)
- Routine dental for children under the age of 14
- Oral and facial surgeries when medically necessary and done in a hospital
- One eye examination every two years for people under the age of 10 or over the age of 64
- There may be coverage for prosthetics (e.g. artificial limbs) via the program. See the Rehabilitation & Supportive Care Services web page for more information.
Residents of Nova Scotia are covered for medical expenses under the Medical Services Insurance Programs, administered by Medavie Blue Cross on behalf of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. Although Medavie Blue Cross is a contracted insurance service provider, the service costs are covered by the province. This means that residents of Nova Scotia do not pay any premiums for these programs. The Department of Health and Wellness also directly administers the province’s Hospital Insurance Program which covers hospital related costs.
In addition to coverage in Canada, MSI also provides limited coverage abroad. Out of Canada, MSI will only cover emergency services, and then only to the amount that it would pay for the same services in Nova Scotia. As healthcare costs abroad can be substantially more expensive than in Canada, you may end up with a large medical bill. When travelling abroad, keep medical travel insurance in mind!
Hospitals and clinics in Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia Health Authority is responsible for 41 hospitals and health care centres, serving Nova Scotia’s population of approximately 921,000 people. The the following map shows the location of hospitals and Health Authority management zones. There are:
- nine regional hospitals;
- QEII Health Sciences Centre – provides specialized services for Atlantic Canada; and
- 31 other facilities, including collaborative emergency centres
Department of Health and Wellness spends around $4 billion of Nova Scotia’s total $10 billion annual budget, $1.5 billion (38%) relates to funding the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Community and social services
211 is a service offered in Nova Scotia to help residents find community and social services. By dialling 211 on your phone or visiting the 211 website, users will easily and quickly be connected to the community and social services they need, wherever they are in the province. 211 offers interpretation services for over 100 languages.
The province is committed to improving mental health care for Nova Scotians. Health and Wellness is working with partners across health care, communities and government to improve mental health services. This work is done through the department’s Mental Health, Children’s, Services, and Addiction Treatment branch.
In Nova Scotia 72% report their mental health status as excellent or very good. Measuring self-reported mental health provides an indication of the population suffering from some form of mental disorder, mental or emotional problems, or distress, not necessarily reflected in self-reported (physical) health.
911 is an emergency only contact number that can be dialed anywhere in Nova Scotia. Wherever the call is made, you will be connected to the nearest emergency service provider. If you call it for anything other than an emergency, you could be fined.
Ambulance services are available throughout Nova Scotia, for both emergencies and patient transfers. Both types require a fee.
Non-emergency health information
When you dial 811 on your phone, a registered nurse can answer your health questions, and give you advice and information you need. 811 can support callers in more than 120 languages. More information can be found on the 811 website.
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