5 medical costs you may have to pay for

Get sick in Canada: You’re covered, right? Not for everything.

Some important fees may not be covered by government health plans or insurers

Most eye exams, prescription drugs and dentistry are not covered by government health plans, but you may also be on the hook for other fees. (CBC)

Get sick in Canada: You’re covered, right? No — not for everything.

Many of us know that most eye exams, prescription drugs and dentistry are not covered by government health plans, but you may be on the hook for other fees that you may not be aware of.

So what can you do? Not every province or facility bills for these services, and you may be covered if you have supplemental insurance or if you qualify for other programs to help you out with the costs.

Here are five other non-insured medical services that could cost you extra.

Ambulance fees

Most provinces charge a user fee of $45 to more than $500 if you take an ambulance. And that can take a toll on patients: A Marketplace survey found that 42 per cent of Canadians say they might delay calling an ambulance because of the cost.

In Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, you can also be billed for ambulance fees if you are transferred between hospitals.

CBC’s Marketplace investigated the cost of ambulance services across Canada and the impact ambulance charges are having on people who need emergency care. Watch the Marketplace investigation No Free Ride on Friday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Television and online.

Hospital parking

Parking may seem like a small cost, but it can add up, especially for patients who need regular treatment such as chemotherapy or dialysis.

Parking fees are a major revenue source for many hospitals, and the rates have been rising across the country.

Marketplace investigated rising parking rates and found they are a real hardship for patients, some of whom spend thousands of dollars to access essential hospital care.

Some doctors are speaking out against parking fees, saying they feel the added financial burden discourages some of the most vulnerable people from seeking medical treatment. One B.C. doctor told Marketplace that patients often left appointments because they were worried about the meter running out.

Crutches, wheelchairs

Break something? Well, your basic care is free, but the complete cost of the fix may not be. Crutches, casts and canes can cost you.

Other equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and hearing aids are also not covered, though some provinces have programs to help offset the costs.


We count on doctors to keep our medical files up to date, but getting the doc to do some paperwork could cost you. That includes dealing with your medical files, prescription refills, insurance or disability forms, or medical notes for school or work. Getting a medical note for your kids’ camp or daycare or for your gym can cost you upwards of $30.

One doctor made headlines recently when she decided to bill employers who require a sick note $30, saying the requests put a burden on the health-care system.

Some doctors’ offices offer block fees that cover some or all additional services for a period, typically a year.

Medically unnecessary procedures

Procedures that aren’t considered medically necessary are often your responsibility to cover. The category covers a wide range, including wart removal (which can cost you $50 or more), treatment of varicose veins and infant circumcision (which typically costs between $200 and $500).

Some provinces also say an annual physical exam is not medically necessary, so if you want an annual checkup in those areas, you may have to pay for it yourself.

You also have to pay for cosmetic procedures and for vaccinations needed for travel.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?