Health insurance for international students

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.

For new students starting in Winter Session 2020, in order to have health insurance coverage during your first 3 months in Canada through iMED, you must confirm your arrival date starting from 3 weeks before you travel.

This applies to you whether you started Winter Term 1 in person or online, and are planning to travel to Canada in the future. See more details.

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 AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan fees. If you are charged, you are covered.

  2. Confirm your arrival date for iMED coverage
    You must confirm when you will travel, starting from 3 weeks before your travel date.  

  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 AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan Pay Direct Card
    Your Pay Direct card allows your claim to be processed immediately when you fill a prescription. If you will complete your Winter Session 2020 studies outside of Canada, learn about opting-out.

  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.

Health and wellbeing resources

If you’re studying in or outside of Canada, there are support options available to you. Answer a few questions and find the resources specific to you. 

Find your options

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 will complete your full program of studies outside of Canada, you can 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, you will receive an email from 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. 

iMED fees

Effective 2020 Winter Term 1 

  • $225 for three months, or
  • $315 for one-term exchange students; and
  • $9.94 for a one-time direct billing fee (for Vancouver campus students only)

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 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 Student Advising

  1. After you register for classes, you will receive an email from DCIS requesting confirmation of your arrival to Canada. You must confirm your arrival date starting 3 weeks before you travel. 
  2. After confirming your arrival date, your iMED card will be sent to you via email. Be sure to download and print a copy. If you do not receive your card, contact DCIS.
  3. Confirm 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 the coverage period is not correct, e-mail info@david-cummings.com.

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

More about iMED

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 implied status.

Approximate costs

Effective January 1, 2020, all international students with study permits must pay $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 which you must pay monthly.

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

Extended health insurance

AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan

Most UBC students are automatically enrolled in the AMS/GSS 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 AMS/GSS 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 covered during the Summer Session

Approximate cost

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

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

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

Eligibility and how to enroll

All AMS and GSS 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 or contact studentcare.ca to confirm your coverage.

If you think you should be covered but you are missing the fee, contact the Care Centre.

AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan benefits are only accessible inside of Canada at this time

If you will study online outside of Canada in Winter Session 2020, check Studentcare’s FAQs to learn about your options to opt-out of AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan. You’ll need to provide proof of alternate coverage or documentation showing your status as an international student, such as a study permit or a copy of the letter IRCC issued stating they received your study permit application. 

If you have questions about coverage outside of Canada or documentation to opt-out, contact Studentcare. The timeframes to apply are:

  • September 8 – 29, 2020 for students starting in Winter Term 1
  • January 4 – 25, 2021 for new students starting in Winter Term 2 
  • July 5 – 19, 2021 for students who stayed outside of Canada

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

If you are not automatically enrolled but wish to enrol, be sure to opt into the plan during the change-of-coverage period.

Health Insurance Overview

International Student Guide

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

View the guide