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iKNOW Health

Services

​​​​​​Overview​

Healthcare is all about the people who give you the care you need. Services are an important part of our healthcare system.

There are many healthcare services available to you. But you may wonder which ones you have to pay for and which ones you don’t.


You’ll find healthcare services in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and even your home. In Alberta, some services are public, some are private, and some are a mix of both.

  • Public services are offered by the Government of Alberta and its partners. Most of these services are paid for by the Government of Alberta. But there are some public services that you have to pay for, like an ambulance, some types of surgery that are planned in advance (called elective surgeries), and some long-term care costs.
  • Private services are offered by organizations that aren’t connected to the government. You have to pay for these services, or you may have coverage to pay for them through private insurance plans, like Alberta Blue Cross. Always ask about the cost of private services.

Select a service type below to learn more.

​​​​​
public-services

Public Services​

private-services

Private Services​​​​​​​​​​




​​​​​​Public Services

​​public se​​rvices are paid
for by:
​​​​
tax-dollars; 

​the government
(through the taxes we all pay)

​​some examples of public health services include:

emergency-services;

emergency services

surgery; 

surgery

acute-care; 

visits to your doctor or to a walk-in clinic​

continuing-care;

long-term care

cancer-care; 

cancer
​care

specialty-care;

specialists

lab-testing;

lab tests

diagnostic-imaging;

imaging tests

... and mo​​​re​​​

Public services are paid for by the government from the taxes you pay.

The biggest public healthcare service provider in Alberta is Alberta Health Services. Alberta Health Services works with other health providers like Covenant Health, Alberta Precision Laboratories, and Carewest to provide publicly-funded healthcare services. You’ll need to show your Alberta Personal Health Card to use public healthcare services.


Emergency care

Emergency care is care you get in the emergency room at a hospital or when you call an ambulance. You may need to pay part of the cost of calling an ambulance, unless you have government or private insurance coverage. You may also have to pay for an ambulance even if you don’t need to go to the hospital.

EMS Mobile Integrated Healthcare has teams that give care in the community. They help prevent some emergency care needs by offering care in your home.

Learn about emergency care options (like 811 and where to find your nearest emergency department), ambulance fees, and EMS Mobile Integrated HealthCare.


Visits to your doctor

Care you get from your family doctor or other healthcare provider that works with your doctor (such as a nurse, dietitian, mental health counsellor or pharmacist) is called primary care.

Alberta has teams of family doctors and other health professionals (called primary care networks or PCNs) that work together to develop programs and services to meet your everyday health needs. Many, but not all, family doctors in Alberta work within a PCN.

Ask your doctor about their network, or visit Alberta PCNs to learn more.


Hospital stays

When you get hurt or sick and need to stay in a hospital, this is called acute care. Acute care includes care after a surgery and being treated for a heart attack.


Medical procedures

Medical procedures include surgery and some tests that a doctor or healthcare provider does, such as a colonoscopy or a Pap test.


Lab and imaging tests

Lab and imaging tests can help find out why you have pain, feel sick, or have other symptoms. They’re often used to diagnose illness and disease.

  • Lab tests include blood and urine tests.
  • Imaging tests look at the organs and tissues inside your body. They include x-rays, ultrasounds, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.


Continuing care

Continuing care has 3 levels of care: home care, supported living and long-term care. Some continuing care services are public services funded by the provincial government. Other services are private, so you’ll need to pay for them or have an insurance plan that helps cover the cost.

  • Home care is care you get in your home or where you live. This includes nursing, rehabilitation services, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and other personal care needs. You or your family have to arrange for or agree to the home care services you need.
  • Supported living is a setting that includes a place to live as well as health and personal care support. This may include meals, housekeeping, and group activities. The care you get is based on your needs. In some cases, home care may give support services in a supported living setting.
  • Long-term care is a setting that includes a place to live and the support and health services you need. It’s for people who need more care because of their health needs and can’t live at home or in supported living. The healthcare services in long-term care are public services. But you pay fees to cover the cost of living in the facility, meals, and other living expenses.

Find out more about continuing care in Alberta.


Specialty care

Specialty care is care you get from doctors and other healthcare providers who specialize in certain areas of medicine (called specialists). This includes:

  • cancer care from a cancer doctor (oncologist)
  • arthritis care from an arthritis doctor (rheumatologist)
  • care for your heart and blood vessels around the heart (called cardiac care) from a heart doctor (cardiologist)
  • services for people who identify as LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, Two-Spirit (2S), or other sexual orientations and gender identities) – These include Alberta Health Services Sexual and Gender Diversity Services and Kids Help Phone.

Most specialty care is a public service that’s covered by your Alberta Personal Health Card. You may need to pay for some services or treatments that aren’t funded by the Government of Alberta.

Learn about other services.



​​​​​​​Private Services

​​Private se​​rvices are paid for by:​​​​

health-insurance; 

​health
i​nsurance​​​

out-of-pocket; 

you


​​Some examples of private health services include:

oral-health;

oral health

eye-health; 

eye exam​s

fitness; 

fitness​

yoga; 

yoga​

continuing-care;

long-term care

diagnostic-imaging; 

imaging​​ tests

doctors-note;

doctor's note



 
... and mo​​​re ​​​

Private healthcare services are delivered through different healthcare partners and aren’t funded by the government.


Doctor’s notes and forms

Most services you get from a doctor are publicly funded. Doctor’s notes (also called sick notes) and filling out forms aren’t. You have to pay for these services.

Continuing care

Continuing care has 3 levels of care: home care, supported living and long-term care. Some continuing care services are public services funded by the provincial government. Other services are private, so you’ll need to pay for them or have an insurance plan that helps cover the cost.

  • Home care is care you get in your home or where you live. This includes nursing, rehabilitation services, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and other personal care needs. You or your family have to arrange for or agree to the home care services you need.
  • Supported living is a setting that includes a place to live as well as health and personal care support. This may include meals, housekeeping, and group activities. The care you get is based on your needs. In some cases, home care may give support services in a supported living setting.
  • Long-term care is a setting that includes a place to live and the support and health services you need. It’s for people who need more care because of their health needs and can’t live at home or in supported living. The healthcare services in long-term care are public services. But you pay fees to cover the cost of living in the facility, meals, and other living expenses.

Find out more about continuing care in Alberta.


Imaging tests

You can pay for some types of imaging tests (like MRIs) if you want to get the test and result (diagnosis) sooner. This is a private service. Imaging tests are a public healthcare service, but you often have to wait longer to get them compared to a private service.


Fitness, yoga, and massage

Fitness and yoga classes, gym memberships, and massages are types of health-related services called preventative health services. You have to pay for preventative health services. Some private insurance plans, through your work or ones you buy for yourself, may cover costs for these services.


Oral health services

Oral health services from a dentist and dental hygienist are private services. You can use dental coverage through an insurance plan to pay for these services or pay for them yourself.


Eye exams

Eye exams by an optometrist (eye doctor) are private services. You may have coverage through an insurance plan to pay for these services or need to pay for them yourself. Eye exams for young children are paid for by the Government of Alberta through their Alberta Personal Health Card.


Addiction and mental health services

Addiction and mental health services are publicly funded services. But there are many private or not-for-profit addiction and mental health services, such as counselling and peer or family support. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out what services are best for you. For more information, visit:


Paying for private services

If you don’t have a health insurance plan to help cover the cost of private services, you may still be able to get help to pay for them. Talk to your healthcare provider or call 811 to find out more.

There are many not-for-profit groups who offer help and support.

Learn about other services.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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