Origins of National Health Insurance

Origins of National Health Insurance

Before the late 1940s private sources paid for the vast majority of health care in Canada. In 1947 the province of Saskatchewan introduced a public insurance plan to cover the cost of hospital services for its citizens. The federal government introduced a program in 1956 to develop hospital insurance plans in all provinces. In this program, the federal government offered to share with the provinces the costs of hospital and diagnostic services. By 1961 all ten provinces and the two territories in Canada had established public insurance plans that provided universal coverage for at least inpatient hospital care.

In 1962 Saskatchewan introduced public medical insurance to cover services by physicians outside hospitals. The federal government established the comprehensive medical care program, called Medicare, in 1968. By 1972 all of the provincial and territorial health care plans had expanded to cover physicians’ services.

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