Medical Services Plan (MSP)
MSP is BC’s provincial health insurance plan. Anyone living in BC for six months or longer (including international students) is required by law to enrol in MSP and pay the plan’s premiums. Carry your BC Services Card with you at all times.
Apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC.
About BC Medical Service Plan (MSP)
What is it?
Medical Services Plan (MSP) is British Columbia’s (BC) provincial health insurance plan, mandatory for everyone who lives in the province for six months or longer. If you will reside in BC for six months or longer, you should apply for MSP immediately after you arrive.
Why do I need it?
MSP covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. In most cases, you will not have to pay at the time you seek medical care when you show your BC Services Card. MSP does not cover dental care, prescription drugs, routine vision care (such as eye examinations or corrective lenses), or travel. For a full list of your medical and health care benefits visit the MSP website.
When do I need it?
You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins: this is the rest of the month in which you arrive in BC, plus two full calendar months. For example, if you arrive in BC on August 25th, you will be eligible for MSP on November 1st.
Most new international students are covered by iMED for their first three months in BC, designed to coincide with the waiting period for MSP.
How much does it cost?
Effective September 1, 2019:
International students 19 years or older:
- $37.50 MSP premium per month, and
- $37.50 health care coverage fee per month
International students 18 years or younger:
- $37.50 health care coverage fee per month
Effective January 1, 2020:
- All international students: $75 health care coverage fee per month
Note, the price is subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up to date prices.
What does it cover?
- Basic medical care within Canada
- Most doctors visits
- Most hospital visits
How to apply for MSP
|When to apply||Immediately after arriving in British Columbia.|
|Cost||You will be charged monthly fees once coverage begins. The application is free.|
|Processing time||About three weeks; coverage begins after a waiting period (the balance of the month or arrival plus two months).|
|Supporting documents (additional document may be needed)||International students: Copy of valid study permit or work permit (e.g. Post graduation or spouse/partner work permit)
Canadian students: Copy of proof of citizenship (e.g. Canadian passport of citizenship certificate)
Family members: Copy of visitor record or spouse/partner work permit
Enrol your family in MSP
If your family members plan to reside in BC for more than six months, they may also be eligible for MSP.
If your family members arrive in BC with you (e.g. within the same calendar month) and you apply for MSP by paper, you can all use one enrolment form to apply for MSP. Simply fill in your family members’ information on the second page of the form. If your family members arrive in BC in a later month, you can use the MSP account change form to add them to your existing MSP.
Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (e.g. a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for more than six months in the application. Some visitors will have only an entry stamp in their passports; photocopy this as their status document.
If your family members arrive in BC with you (e.g. within the same calendar month) and you apply for MSP online, you can come to International Programs & Services Office to get the assistance to your application.
Also remember that your family members also need to go through the three-month waiting period and should consider purchasing a temporary health insurance for that period.
If your child is born in BC, you can add them to your MSP through the Baby Enrolment/Addition of a Newborn form.
Once your coverage begins
- MSP will send you an invoice in the mail every month. You need to start making payments after receiving the invoice.
- You may choose to sign-up for electronic billing.
- Remember to tell MSP if you change your address, change your name, leave BC permanently, or need to add/remove dependents to or from your coverage (e.g. you get married, divorced, have a common-law partner, or have children). See the “Account Change” information.
- Remember to keep your MSP valid by renewing your MSP coverage each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada (for example, when you extend your study permit or get a post-graduation work permit).
Generally, your BC Services Card has the same expiry date as your status in Canada, such as the expiry date of your study permit or post-graduation work permit. If you have to extend your immigration documents, make sure you extend your MSP coverage as well.
MSP coverage while traveling
If you’re leaving BC for a few months due to co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your MSP payments.
You have two options:
Put a hold on (“suspend”) your MSP account temporarily while you are traveling if you will be gone for more than 6 months.
- Call MSP and ask to talk to an Enrolment Specialist to temporarily suspend your account without paying while you travel.
- Tell MSP your departure and return date. During the temporary hold you will not be covered and you will not be charged.
- Review these guidelines regarding leaving BC temporarily carefully to confirm your eligibility.
- After returning to BC, you must call to reactivate your MSP account.
Use the travel insurance included in your UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan by paying for MSP while you are traveling.
- Although MSP provides only limited coverage when you travel internationally, your UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan does provide coverage. To use the travel insurance, you must also have basic insurance such as MSP or an equivalent.
- The UBCSUO Health & Dental Plan does not cover travel to your home country.
Maintain your eligibility
To remain eligible for MSP, you need to live in BC for a minimum of six months in one calendar year. If you are absent from BC for more than six months, you will need to re-apply when you return to the province and go through the approximately three month waiting period again.
For example, if you live outside of BC between May and December in 2017 you may need to reapply for your health insurance. However, if you are away from BC September 2017 and April 2018, you remain eligible for MSP because you are only absent from the province for four months in each calendar year. To remain eligible for MSP, you need to live in BC for a minimum of six months in one calendar year. If you are absent from BC for more than six months, you will need to re-apply when you return.
How having implied status impacts your MSP coverage
If you have implied status, your BC MSP will end on the expiry date of your current immigration document and will not be activated until you provide BC MSP with proof of your new immigration document (i.e. a copy of your study permit or post-graduation work permit).
If there is a gap in your BC MSP coverage during your implied status period, it is highly recommended that you obtain temporary private insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan to cover you during the period until BC MSP is reinstated.
Depending on the length of the gap in your BC MSP coverage, you may need to re-apply for BC MSP when you obtain your valid permit and go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again. For more information, contact BC MSP.