Medical Services Plan (MSP) for international students

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.

About BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

What is MSP?

Medical Services Plan (MSP) is a mandatory health insurance plan, for everyone who lives in British Columbia (BC) for six months or longer. Apply for MSP online or by mail immediately after you arrive.

Why do I need MSP?

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 MSP?

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 25, you will be eligible for MSP on November 1.

Designed to coincide with the waiting period for MSP, most new international students are covered by iMED for their first three months in BC.

How much does MSP cost?

Effective January 01, 2017: MSP will cost $75 per month for one adult and $150 for families with two adults or more. There will be no premiums for children under the age of 19, including international students.

Also, children 19-24 years old who are both attending university and covered on their parent/guardian’s MSP account can continue to be covered as children on the parent/guardian’s account and will not be charged premiums until they turn 25 years old, if they are:

  1. Unmarried (and not in a marriage-like relationship),
  2. Financially supported by the parent or guardian, and
  3. Attending a recognized post-secondary school on a full-time basis

Please note, these fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for more information on the changes.

Once your MSP coverage begins

  • MSP will send you an invoice in the mail every month. You need to start making payments after receiving the invoice.
  • 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 Managing your MSP Account page.
  • 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). Be sure to read the “how having implied status affects your coverage” if this applies to you. 

Enrol your family

If your family members plan to reside in BC for six months or more, they may also be eligible for MSP.

  • If your family members arrive in BC with you (i.e., within the same calendar month), you can all use one enrolment form to apply for MSP. Simply fill in your family members’ information on the second page of the paper form or the online form
  • If your family members arrive in BC at a later date, you can use the MSP Account Change form to add them to your existing MSP. Visit the Forms for B.C. Residents page to complete your family's enrolment (you can do so online or by mail).

Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (e.g., a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for six months or more in the application. Some visitors will have only an entry stamp in their passports; photocopy this as their status document.

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.

Maintain your eligibility

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.

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). You may be eligible to request continuous coverage and a reinstatement of your BC MSP by mailing a written request (a letter explaining your status and your request) and a copy of your new immigration document to BC MSP. If approved for continuous coverage, you will be requested to pay for the monthly premiums for the months in which you held implied status and any medical expenses incurred during your implied status may be eligible for reimbursement only up the fees that BC MSP will normally pay for.  

If there is a gap in your BC MSP coverage or if you do not request continuous coverage for BC MSP during your implied status period, it is highly recommended that you obtain temporary private insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan.

MSP coverage while traveling

If you’re leaving BC temporarily due to co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your MSP payments. 

You have 2 options:

1. Put a hold on (“suspend”) your MSP account if you will be away for more than 6 months and do not want to maintain your MSP coverage.

  • As a resident of BC, please read MSP’s website for details on suspending your coverage.
  • If you are eligible, 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.
  • After returning to BC, you must call to reactivate your MSP account.

2. You can use the travel insurance included in your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan while paying for MSP when you are travel. Make sure you understand MSP’s residency requirements.

  • Although MSP provides only limited coverage when you travel internationally, your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan does provide coverage. To use the travel insurance in your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, you must also have basic insurance such as MSP or an equivalent.
  • The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan does not cover travel to your home country.
  • If you paid the MED/DENT fee (view your SSC financial summary) last September or January, you have the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan. This plan is valid until August 31.
  • For more information, talk to the staff in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan office or visit their website.

iMED vs. MSP

How to apply or extend your MSP

Get help

International Student Development

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
International House
1783 West Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Canada

Drop-in advising

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