Accessing affordable medical devices for newcomers 

By: Dru Gary

Published on: January 22nd, 2024

Canada is well-known for its universal healthcare system, which provides coverage for a wide range of medical services. There are different provincial standards when it comes to the coverage of medical devices like walkers and hearing aids. Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded and provides essential medical services to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  

The coverage for medical devices such as walkers and hearing aids can differ significantly between provinces and territories. While some provinces offer substantial coverage, others have limited or no coverage at all, resulting in disparities in accessibility and affordability. 

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is a government-run health insurance plan for Ontario residents. Unfortunately, OHIP does not cover all medical expenses Ontarians incur. There are other government assisted programs that can help out with the cost of necessary medical devices.  

Ontario’s Assistive Devices 

Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is a provincial initiative aimed at improving the quality of life for people with disabilities or long-term medical conditions. By providing financial assistance and facilitating access to assistive technologies, ADP plays a crucial role in enabling independence and increased mobility for Ontarians in need of these life-changing devices. 

Covered Devices and Funding 

The ADP covers a wide range of devices and technologies. Some devices that are covered are: 

  • Mobility Aids: This category includes wheelchairs, power scooters, walkers, and specialized seating systems. 
  • Communication Devices: Devices such as speech-generating devices (SGDs) are covered to support individuals with speech and communication difficulties. 
  • Vision Aids: ADP assists in funding visual aids such as low vision aids, electronic magnifiers, and reading machines for individuals with visual impairments. 
  • Hearing Aids: The ADP provides partial funding for hearing aids to eligible individuals, primarily focusing on children and adults with low income. The program covers a portion of the cost, with the individual responsible for the remaining amount. 

There are several benefits that ADP provides including: 

Financial Assistance 

The ADP provides financial support by subsidizing the cost of assistive devices. This reduces the financial burden for individuals and families who may struggle to afford these essential technologies otherwise. 

Increased Access 

By facilitating access to assistive devices, the ADP ensures that individuals with disabilities have the necessary tools to enhance their independence, mobility, and communication. This, in turn, improves their overall quality of life. 

Professional Guidance 

ADP works in conjunction with healthcare professionals who play an essential role in the assessment and prescription process. This ensures that those in need can receive appropriate and tailored devices that meet their specific needs. 

Continuity of Care  

ADP promotes ongoing support by providing repair and replacement funding for medical devices. This ensures that people can sustain the functionality of their assistive technologies and minimize disruptions to their daily lives. 

Besides ADP, there are several non-profit organizations that work hard to get medical devices to those that cannot afford them. 

March of Dimes Canada 

March of Dimes Canada is a charitable organization that supports people with physical disabilities and provides a range of services. They offer financial assistance through programs like the ADP, which helps individuals with the purchase and repair of mobility aids, hearing aids, and communication devices. 

Muscular Dystrophy Canada 

Muscular Dystrophy Canada is an organization that supports individuals and families affected by neuromuscular disorders. They offer funding programs and financial assistance for various medical devices, including mobility aids, assistive technology, and respiratory equipment. 

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)  

CNIB is a non-profit organization that supports individuals who are blind or partially sighted. They offer programs and services that assist with accessing visual aids and assistive technologies to enhance independence and improve quality of life. 

There are a few other options when it comes to coverage for medical devices. It is possible that private insurance or workplace benefits will cover much of the cost of these devices. Private insurance and workplace insurance are not accessible to many people living in Ontario, so it is essential to know your options. There are many alternative and affordable options for people living in Ontario to get necessary medical devices at no or low costs.  

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