How to get Healthcare Services in Alberta
1) Health Care System Overview
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is the health authority in Alberta, providing hospitals, clinics, continuing care facilities, mental health facilities and community health sites for public access.
2) How to Apply for your Alberta Health Care Card
a. Complete the application form “Application for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan Coverage”
- ” The form may be obtained through your local registry, or downloaded here: https://www.alberta.ca/ahcip-forms.aspx
b. Gather supporting documents. These documents must prove:
- Alberta residency – this document must show the full name and current mailing address (ex: Alberta driver’s license, leasing contract, utility bills)
- Identity – this document must show a photo, name, and birthdate (ex: Canadian/Non-Canadian passport, PR Card, Alberta driver’s license)
- Legal entitlement to be in Canada – this document must be federally issued with a name and birthdate (ex: PR Card, Canada entry document, Notice of Decision – Convention Refugee)
c. Submit the application. There are two ways to submit your application.
- In person, bring the completed application form with original documents to an AHCIP authorized registry agent.
- By mail, send the completed application form with photocopies of all your supporting documents, to mailing address:
PO Box 1360 Stn Main
Edmonton, AB T5J 2N3
d. There is no charge to you and health care cards will be mailed to your home.
For more detailed information on the Alberta Health Care Card application process, please visit: https://www.alberta.ca/ahcip-forms.aspx
For more information on what is covered under your Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, visit: https://www.alberta.ca/ahcip-what-is-covered.aspx
3) Ways to Find a Family Doctor
- Health Link – Call 811 in Alberta for a phone service that provides health advice from a registered nurse.
- Find a Family doctor online – https://search.cpsa.ca/physiciansearch
- Ask a friend or family member for a referral.
- If you do not yet have a family doctor, you can go to a walk in clinic without an appointment: http://www.walkinhealth.ca/directory/walk-in-clinic/
4) Accessing Medical Services – Depending on Level of Urgency
a. Low urgency. Does not require immediate treatment, but is of a concern
i. Call Health Link at 811
o For information or address concerns you may have
o Interpreter for different languages are available.
ii. Visit a family doctor/walk-in clinic
o Appointments for annual check-ups and testing
o Provides prescription for medication
o Referrals to specialists if required
b. Medium urgency. Requires immediate treatment, but no life-threatening injuries
i. Visit an Urgent Care Center
o Extended hours option offering same day treatment, for unexpected but not life-threatening conditions i.e broken bones, asthma, infections, pain etc.
o Most are open 24/7
o Urgent Care Centers in Alberta:
¢ Airdrie Community Health Centre
¢ Cochrane Community Health Centre
¢ East Edmonton Health Centre
¢ Okotoks Health and Wellness Centre
¢ Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre
¢ South Calgary Health Centre
c. High urgency. Requires immediate treatment, with possible life-threatening injuries.
i. Go to the nearest Emergency Department in a hospital
o Go directly or call 911 for an ambulance to bring you to the hospital.
o They can provide medical care, follow-up care and specialists. There may be a very long wait, depending on the nature of your emergency.
o Emergency department wait times are available online: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/waittimes/waittimes.aspx
ii. Call 911 for life threatening emergencies.
o This number connects you with medical, fire and police services. Medical help arrives when the ambulance arrives.
o In the meantime, Calgary 9-1-1 can provide lifesaving instructions. NEVER try to drive a very sick or injured person to the hospital thinking it will be faster than waiting for an ambulance.
To learn more about different medical treatment options, please visit:
5) Funding Programs for Services Not Covered Under AHCIP
- For information on government Health programs and benefits:
- Seniors of age 65+ can receive Alberta blue cross senior benefits https://www.ab.bluecross.ca/government-plan/government-plan.php
- Public dental program at reduced cost
6) Resources thanks to: Diversity Liaison Team, Public Health, Alberta Health Services – Calgary Zone.
Alberta Health Care Card– A government-issued identification that gives residents of Alberta access to insured medical services such as doctors, hospitals, tests etc.
Alberta Health Service (AHS)– Single health authority in Alberta, delivering medical care on behalf of the government.
Ambulance– Emergency hospital vehicle for taking sick or injured people to and from the hospital, in the case of an emergency.
Clinic– An office where patients can get medical treatment or advice
Coverage–Fees and services that are covered under your health care plan. This can go from no coverage, to partial or full coverage.
Eligible– Have the requirements to meet required conditions
Emergency– A serious unexpected, often dangerous situation that needs immediate actions
Employer’s Insurance Plan – also known as group plans. Health benefits from an employer offered to eligible employees and their family. This may include life insurance, disability insurance, dental care etc.
Health Link– Free medical phone service by calling 811, that provides health information and advice over the phone.
Hospital– A health care facility that offers medical and/or surgical treatment
Medicine– also known as drugs or medication. Taken to treat and prevent of diseases.
Patient– A person receiving medical treatment
Referral– Recommendation from a doctor for a patient to access needed services or specialists. A referral from a family doctor is required to see a specialist.
Registry Agent– An office offering registration, information and licensing services on behalf of the government. Some services include: Driver’s license and testing, car registration, Alberta Health Care registration etc.
Specialist– A medical professional who is highly skilled on a specific subject or activity. (ex. a Cardiologist is a specialist highly skilled in the study and treatment of the heart)
Urgent – An important issue requiring immediate action or attention
#1. What should you do in the case of a life-threatening emergency?
#2. What is the best option to get immediate medical information or help for non-emergency medical concerns?
#3. To get a prescription for medication or to do an annual medical examination, who should you contact?
#4. What piece of identification is required when visiting a medical center?
#5. What is the cost for basic health care for Canadian citizens and Permanent residents?
Acknowledgements of Actors: Ghazi H., Nicole H., Deborah F.,
Resources thanks to: Diversity Liaison Team, Public Health, Alberta Health Services – Calgary Zone.