Nine out of ten Canadians think they have coverage that will pay for all of the costs associated with hospital stays and psychiatric treatment, and almost eight out of ten say they do not expect to pay out of pocket for nursing home or long-term care residence fees, hearing aids, or home care. Another 50% say they do not expect to have to pay for eye care, and 44% do not think they will have to spend their own money on prescription drugs.

parent_brigitte_article Sun Life Financial says that its 2014 Canadian Health Index has revealed a "profound disconnect" between the true cost of health care and what Canadians expect to pay. The insurer suggests that people either have an unrealistic level of confidence in their own health, or they simply misunderstand how healthcare is funded.

"This could explain why so many Canadians choose not to purchase health insurance," reads the report. "One quarter (24%) of respondents told us they own personal health insurance. Fewer than one in five (16%) own disability insurance; 12% own critical illness insurance; and 10% own long-term care insurance."

Sun Life says that, despite the quality of Canada’s universal health care system, out-of-pocket expenses are actually commonplace. Last year, the insurer says Canadians paid an average of $1,511 in out of pocket for health care expenses, with Albertans spending the most ($1,765) and Quebecers the least ($1,286).

"Canada's health insurance system was set up to respond to people's need for it, rather than for their ability to pay for it," comments Brigitte Parent, Senior Vice President of Individual Insurance and Wealth at Sun Life Financial Canada. "However, our research revealed that a large majority of Canadians are not aware that not everything is covered by their provincial health insurance."