As a newcomer to the Northwest Territories, one of your first jobs should be to apply for an NWT health card. This card is your record of your NWT health number and is proof of your eligibility for free healthcare under NWT’s healthcare plan.
You will need to provide your health cards whenever you access healthcare in NWT. You will also need these when registering with a family doctor.
In this post, we will give you an overview of the Canadian and Northwest Territories’ healthcare systems and explain in simple terms how to apply for your NWT healthcare card.
For more information on Canadian health care and other provincial health cards, refer to our article on applying for health cards in Canada.
Canadian Healthcare – An Overview
Canada’s excellent healthcare system provides free primary care to eligible residents. Healthcare is publicly funded and administered at the provincial/territorial level. The provincial/territorial systems operate similarly, but there is some variation in coverage.
Your provincial plan will also provide basic coverage while travelling within other provinces and territories. However, if you move province permanently, you will need to re-register for healthcare with your new province/territory.
How To Apply For An NWT Health Card – The Basics
Your NWT health card application can appear complicated but involves the following basic steps.
- Download or collect a hard copy application form (or access it via the online portal)
- Gather the required documentation
- Complete the application form (one per family)
- Submit the application form and copies of documentation online or via email, fax or mail
- Your NWT health card will be mailed to you
The following sections explain these steps in more detail, but some basic facts about the process are provided below:
|NWT Health Care Coverage|
|Cost of Application||Free|
|Ongoing Insurance Cost||Free|
|Processing Time||Up to 6 Weeks|
|Wait Period (moving from outside Canada)||None|
|Wait Period (moving from within Canada)||2-3 Months|
Who Is Eligible For NWT Health Care Coverage?
Residents of the NWT are eligible for health care if:
- They are lawfully entitled to be or remain in Canada, and
- They make their home in and are ordinarily present in the NWT. Ordinarily present means you are physically present in the NWT at least 153 days during each calendar year.
Who Isn’t Eligible For NWT Health Care Coverage?
If you are a student from another province or territory and plan to return to your home province after your studies, you won’t be eligible for NWT health coverage. However, you will still receive coverage from your home province while in NWT.
What Is The Wait Period For NWT Health Care Coverage?
If you move to NWT from overseas, there is no waiting period for coverage, and you should apply for your health cards as soon as possible after you arrive.
However, there is a wait time for people who move to the Northwest Territories from another province. In this situation, your coverage won’t start until the 1st day of the 3rd month following the date you became a resident.
For example: if you become a permanent NWT resident on July 12th, your coverage will start on October 1st.
You will continue to receive basic coverage from your previous province or territory in the interim period.
Are You Planning A Move To Canada?
Are you wondering whether to make the move and have endless questions?
We have the answers to these and many more questions.
We have the answer to these and many more questions.
What Documentation Will I Need To Apply For An NWT Health Card?
To apply for an NWT Health Card, you will need to provide copies of 3 pieces of documentation:
- ONE piece of ID which confirms your right to reside in Canada (e.g. birth certificate, Canadian passport, permanent resident card, immigration documents such as work permit)
- TWO pieces of ID that show your name and address in NWT (e.g. mortgage document, rent receipt, proof of employment)
For those with indigenous status, you should also provide proof of this.
You can find further details of acceptable ID on the application form.
How To Apply For An NWT Health Card
NWT is one of the few provinces/territories where you can apply for your health care card online. This is done through the NWT Government portal.
The alternative is to complete an application form which can be downloaded or collected from a health clinic or hospital. You can then submit the completed form with copies of your documentation using one of the following methods:
- Mail to: Department of Health and Social Services, Bag #9, Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0
- Fax to: 1-867-777-3197
- Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What Is Covered By The NWT Health Care Plan?
NWT Health Care will cover you for medically necessary healthcare services such as:
- Visits to general practitioners, surgeons and other doctors
- Hospital services
- Medically required diagnostic tests such as X-rays
- Laboratory services (e.g. blood tests)
- Radiotherapy treatment, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy when provided by an insured facility
- Detoxification services in an approved health facility
What Isn’t Covered By The NWT Health Care Plan?
NWT health care won’t cover you for the following services:
- Prescriptions (apart from during a hospital stay)
- Dental services except in certain medically necessary situations
- Alternative treatments such as naturopathy
- Cosmetic procedures
- Procedures considered experimental
- Ambulances services (unless transferring between hospitals)
Additional Health Coverage Options
Two other government programs provide coverage for services not covered by the Nunavut Health Care Plan. These are:
Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB)
Non-Insured Health Benefits is a federal government program offered to eligible Land Claim Beneficiaries. It helps to pay for some costs not covered by NWT health care coverage.
Extended Health Benefits (EHB)
The final option is 3rd party supplementary insurance. This private coverage is often included in employee benefit packages, or you can acquire your own coverage.
How Do I Register With A Family Doctor In NWT?
Once you have received your NWT health card, you can register with a family doctor. You are free to register with any doctor in your area that is accepting new patients. Some options for finding a doctor would be:
- Ask for a recommendation from someone you know
- Search online listings for doctors in your area