Are health benefits the same as health insurance in Canada?

No, they are completely different yet most Canadians conflate the two. Health benefits or extended benefits, relate to routine Drug, Dental, Optical and Medical expenses. Think prescription drugs, glasses, dental check-ups and massages. Health insurance refers to risk-based products purchased to protect oneself against unforeseen catastrophic events such as death, disability, illness or emergency hospital and/or travel related expenses. This distinction is important because major insurers bundle extended benefits with insurance into a single premium. This allows them to justify premium increases each year since every claim will raise your plan usage and perceived ‘risk’.