Alberta Healthcare

The BIG Alberta Healthcare news for 2009 is that effective 1st January 2009, all Albertan residents will no longer pay the Alberta Health care Premium (AHCIP).

Supplementary healthcare (prescription drugs, Ambulance, Physiotherapy, Dentistry etc) is not covered however so you must ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage as once the free level of care has been passed things can become very expensive very quickly.

The Provincial healthcare system is administered by Alberta Health And Wellness.

All residents of Alberta must register for the Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan to be eligible for services. Once your application has been processed you will be provided with a card and personal Alberta Healthcare number.

You may be entitled to coverage by the plan on the day you arrive in Alberta, but you must register within 3 months to ensure this. If you have to have any treatment prior to receiving you Alberta Healthcare number you should keep any receipts as you should be able to claim it back.

As the AHCIP only covers basic medical costs it is highly recommended that you have additional coverage. Prescription drugs, dental care and even a trip in an ambulance can be very expensive. Health benefit packages are sometimes offered by employers or alternatively you can purchase you own. Many companies sell private plans but they won't be cheap. The Alberta Blue Cross is a not for profit organisation that provides health coverage for albertans. Their mission is: To provide supplementary health care and related benefit programs and services, on a viable, not-for-profit basis, for the financial protection and well-being of our publics.

For Health Professionals looking to move to Alberta, the Provincially sponsored site Healthjobs.ab.ca may provide good information in your quest for employment.

Health Issues

As a whole there are very few serious health issues in Canada. The two major illnesses that have hit the headlines were the SARS outbreak (2003) and the continued threat of West Nile Virus.

SARS originates form the Far East (China in particular) and the main outbreaks were in Toronto and Vancouver. Several Alberta residents contracted the illness through Far Eastern travel.

With the arrival of the summer comes the Mosquito. Unfortunately mosquito's are everywhere - especially near water - and some carry the West Nile Virus that is known to cause illness in humans to varying degrees. It does seem that the younger you are the less prone to the effects, though this is by no means clinically proven.

The best protection is to avoid being bitten in the first place, so wear long sleeves and pants (trousers) with a good quality repellant. The best one we have found is "Deep Woods Off" that also comes in a kids formula. Stay away from bodies of still or stagnant water especially around evening time when they are most active.

If you feel the symptoms (see link above) see a doctor as soon as possible.

One final note is that Alberta's environment is extremely dry so be prepared for dry skin. Regular applications of good quality skin lotion will remedy this and shouldn't cause any serious problems. We have found that the "Jergens" brand is very effective when needed.