Health insurance for international students

Covid-19 FAQs for international students

If you’re an international student, find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on immigration, health insurance, and more.

Read the FAQ

student filling out health insurance paperwork

Overview 

All international students are required to have basic and extended health insurance for the duration of their studies at UBC, as health care in Canada can cost thousands of dollars per day if you do not have valid health insurance. 

Accompanying family members are also strongly recommended to have basic and extended health insurance. 

If you started your program in September 2020 to August 2021 (2020/21 Winter Session to 2021 Summer Session), in order to have health insurance coverage through iMED, you must confirm your arrival date starting from 3 weeks before you travel.

See more details

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Setting up your health insurance 

  1. Check your student fees
    After you register for classes, check your fees by logging in to your Student Services Centre (SSC) and selecting “Financial Summary” under Finances. Confirm you are charged for iMED coverage (see section below) and UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan fees. If you are charged, you are covered.
  2. Confirm your iMED coverage dates
    If you began studies between September 2020 and August 2021, you must confirm when you will travel, starting from 3 weeks before your travel date. to be covered, starting from 3 weeks before your travel date. If you begin studies in September 2021 or after you might need to change your coverage dates
  3. Download and print your iMED card
    Your iMED card will be sent to you via email.
  4. Apply for the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)
    As soon as you arrive in British Columbia, apply for MSP online for yourself and any family members who came with you
  5. Download and print your UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan Pay Direct Card
    Your Pay Direct card allows your claim to be processed immediately when you fill a prescription.
  6. Extend your MSP, if required
    Each time you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you will need to extend your MSP to maintain coverage in British Columbia.

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HEALTH AND WELLBEING RESOURCES

If you’re studying in or outside of Canada, there are support options available to you.

Visit UBCO Health & Wellness to learn more about the health and wellbeing resources available to you. 

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Basic health insurance during your first 3 months in Canada 

iMED program 

iMED is temporary private health insurance to cover you while you are waiting to be eligible for MSP, as MSP has a three-month waiting period. The provider is David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) in Vancouver.  

If you are a one-term exchange or a VIRS student, you will have iMED for the duration of your studies. 

If you already have MSP or another Canadian provincial or territorial health plan, or your studies are being funded by a third party organization, you could qualify to opt out of iMED. 

What iMED covers 

  • Doctor visits (for injuries or illnesses) 
  • Hospital visits 
  • Diagnostic, x-ray, and laboratory services 
  • Ambulance services 
  • Maternity coverage 
  • pre-existing conditions (special requirements apply) 

Learn more about your iMED coverage. 

iMED coverage period 

iMED covers your first three months in Canada. 

After you register for classes, if your program started between September 2020 and August 2021, you would have received an email from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) requesting confirmation of your arrival to Canada. You must confirm when you will travel with DCIS starting from 3 weeks before you travel so that your coverage period will start when you arrive in Canada.  

If your program starts in 2021/22 Winter Term 1 (September to December 2021), your coverage will start on August 1, 2021.

If your program starts in 2021/22 Winter Term 2 (January to April 2022), your coverage will start on December 1, 2021.

If you are a one-term exchange student or a VIRS student, you will have iMED for the duration of your studies.

If you will arrive the month before or after your coverage starts, you can request to change your coverage dates.

iMED fees 

Effective 2020/21 Winter Term 1 (September 1, 2020)

  • $225 for three months, or
  • $315 for one-term exchange students;

The fees are charged to your Student Service Centre (SSC) account. Fees are subject to change. 

Eligibility and how to enroll  

You are automatically enrolled in iMED as a new-to-UBC international student when you register for classes. Check the “Financial Summary” in your Student Service Centre (SSC account) to make sure you were charged for the fee and will be enrolled.  

If you are a returning UBC student, you are not eligible for iMED and can purchase private insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan. 

If you think you should be covered for iMED but do not see the fees on your account, contact International Programs & Services

  1. If your program started between September 2020 and August 2021, after you registered for classes, you would have received an email from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) requesting confirmation of your arrival to Canada. You must confirm your arrival date starting 3 weeks before you travel.  After confirming your arrival date, your iMED card will be sent to you via email. Be sure to download and print a copy.
  2. If your program starts September 2021 or later, your iMED card will be automatically emailed to you. Be sure to download and print a copy.
  3. If you do not receive your card, contact David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS).
  4. Confirm that the iMED coverage period on your iMED card is correct. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in BC plus two months to cover the BC MSP waiting period, or cover the full duration of your program of studies if you are a one-term exchange student or VIRS student.

If you have family members, you are responsible for adding them to iMED. 

More about iMED 

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Basic health insurance after your first 3 months in Canada

BC MSP program

The British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the BC-government run public health insurance plan.

BC MSP covers doctor visits, hospital visits, and medically required services. See the list of medical services that MSP covers.

You are required to enroll in MSP if you will be in BC for more than 6 months.

Coverage period

There is a 3-month waiting period to be eligible for MSP, starting with the balance of your month of arrival, plus two months.

As long as you apply as soon as you arrive in BC, you will be covered from your fourth month in BC until the expiry of your study permit, unless you leave BC for an extended period.

When you get a new study or work permit, you must extend your MSP to maintain coverage. If you applied for a new study or work permit but you haven’t received it yet, ensure you have coverage while on maintained status.

Approximate costs

Effective January 1, 2020, all international students with study permits must pay a $75 health-care coverage fee per month.

If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be assessed the health-care coverage fee if they also hold study permits. If they hold work permits or are here as visitors, they will not be assessed the fee.

These fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up-to-date information.

Eligibility and how to enroll

You must apply for MSP for yourself and any family members who come with you as soon as you arrive in BC.Processing your MSP application could take several months. Once processed, you will receive your BC Services Card (formerly known as “BC CareCard”) by mail and receive an invoice each month.

If you will be in BC for six months or less, you are not eligible to apply.

More about MSP

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Extended health insurance

UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan

Most UBC students are automatically enrolled in the UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan each year. You may also enrol in a similar extended health insurance from another source. Extended health insurance covers fees and services which are not covered by basic health insurance, such as BC MSP.

The UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan covers:

Once you have MSP, you might need to register for the BC Fair PharmaCare Plan to enhance coverage for prescriptions.

Coverage period

  • If you start your studies at UBC in September: For one year, from September 1 to August 31
  • If you start your studies at UBC in January: For 8 months, from January 1 to August 31
  • If you start your studies at UBC in May or July: you are not automatically covered during the Summer Session, but you may be eligible to enrol yourself during the change of coverage period. For more information, visit the self enrolment page.

Approximate cost

  • Starting from September 2020: $264.63 for one year.
  • Starting from January 2021: $176.42 for 8 months.

The fee is charged to your Student Services Centre (SSC) account.

Fees are subject to change. See the UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan webpage for the most up-to-date costs.

Eligibility and how to enroll

All UBCSUO members are automatically enrolled, including full-time and part-time students, international students, and those auditing a course. Certain exceptions exist so make sure you check your SSC account to ensure you’ve been charged for the fees and will be enrolled.

If you think you should be covered but you are missing the fee, or to confirm your coverage, contact the Care Centre.

UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan benefits are only accessible inside of Canada at this time

If you studied online outside of Canada in 2020/21 Winter Session, check Studentcare’s FAQs to learn about what your options were to

If you have questions about coverage outside of Canada or documentation to opt-out, contact Studentcare.

If you have family members, you are responsible for adding them to UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan.

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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT GUIDE

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

VIEW THE GUIDE

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