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.

You will need 2 kinds of health insurance:

  • Basic insurance, which covers most medically-required services.
    • iMED for your first 3 months in Canada
    • MSP from your 4th month until the expiry of your study permit
  • Extended health insurance, to cover what basic insurance does not.
    • AMS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan for the duration of your studies at UBC

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

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 enrolled for your program’s coverage dates. If you do not see the iMED fee listed in your financial summary, contact International Student Advising.

  2. Download and print your iMED card
    After you register for your first course, your iMED card will automatically be sent to you via email by David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS). Print it and keep it with you.
  3. Check your iMED coverage dates
    If the start date on your iMED Card is not the calendar month of your arrival in Canada, follow the instructions for changing your iMED coverage dates.
  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.
  6. Extend your MSP, if required
    Each time you extend your study permit or get the Post-Graduation Work Permit, you will need to extend your MSP online to maintain coverage in British Columbia.

Basic health insurance during your first 3 months in Canada

iMED program

iMED is temporary private health insurance to cover new-to-UBC international students while you are waiting to be eligible for the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP), since MSP has a 3-month waiting period. The provider is David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) in Vancouver. 

If you are a one-term exchange student or a Visiting International Research Student (VIRS) student, you will have iMED for the duration of your studies.

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)

Read the full details about what is covered and what is excluded in the iMED policy.

iMED coverage period

iMED covers your first 3 months in Canada. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in BC plus 2 months to cover the 3-month BC MSP waiting period, or cover the full duration of your program of studies if you are a one-term exchange student or a VIRS student.

Your coverage dates depend on when you start your program:

  • Winter Term 1 (September to December): your coverage will start on August 1.
  • Winter Term 2 (January to April): your coverage will start on December 1.
  • Summer Term 1 (May to June): your coverage will start on April 1.
  • Summer Term 2 (July to August): your coverage will start on June 1.

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

If the start date on your iMED Card is not the calendar month of your arrival in Canada, follow the instructions to change your coverage dates.

iMED fees

Effective September 1, 2020

  • $225 for 3 months, or
  • $315 for one-term exchange students; and

Effective May 1, 2022

  • $10.34 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 enrolment

You are automatically enrolled in iMED as a new-to-UBC international student when you register for classes. Check the “Financial Summary” under Finances in your Student Services Centre (SSC) account to make sure you are charged for iMED coverage. If you are charged, you are enrolled for your program’s coverage dates. If you think you should be covered for iMED but do not see the fees on your account, contact International Student Advising

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

Your iMED card will be automatically emailed to you by David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) after you register for your first course. Check your inbox and junk-mail folders. During your coverage dates, print your iMED card and keep it with you in case you need medical attention, along with your student ID and copy of your study permit. Consider saving a digital copy on your phone as well.

If you don't receive your iMED card, please email DCIS at imed@david-cummings.com. In your email, write “Missing iMED card” as the subject line, and in the message you must include your name, student number, and date of arrival in BC.

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

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 may be eligible to opt out of 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.

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

What MSP covers

BC MSP covers doctor visits, hospital visits, and medically required services.

Review the list of medical services that MSP covers.

Coverage period

There is a 3-month waiting period to be eligible for MSP, starting with the balance of your month of arrival, plus 2 months. 

As long as you apply upon your arrival in BC, you should be covered from your 4th 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 online 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 apply

You must apply for MSP online 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. You must pay the government directly.

Once you have MSP, you might be eligible to register for the BC Fair PharmaCare Plan for coverage for prescription drugs, some medical devices, and eligible dispensing fees, and some pharmacy services.

If you will be in BC for 6 months or less, you are not eligible to apply for MSP coverage.

More about MSP

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 iMED, BC MSP, or the Global Campus Health Plan.

What the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan covers

The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan covers what basic health insurance does not, including:

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

You must have MSP or equivalent basic health insurance coverage to be covered under the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan.

Coverage period

  • If you start your studies at UBC in Winter Term 1, you’re covered by the plan for 1 year from September 1 to August 31
  • If you start your studies at UBC in Winter Term 2, you’re covered by the plan for 8 months from January 1 to August 31
  • If you start your studies at UBC in the Summer Session: you are not automatically enrolled, but you may be eligible to self-enrol during the change of coverage period.

Approximate cost

The fee is charged to your Student Services Centre (SSC) account and are as follows: 

  • Students starting in Winter Term 1, 2021: $264.63 for 1 year.
  • Students starting in Winter Term 2, 2021: $176.42 for 8 months.

Fees for the 2022/23 school year will be updated once available.

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

Eligibility and enrolment

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 Student Services Centre (SSC) account in the “Financial Summary” under Finances 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 StudentCare Centre.

If you have questions about coverage outside of Canada or documentation to opt out, contact the StudentCare Centre.

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.  If you wish to opt into the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, you must opt into all other AMS fees.

If you have a separate extended health insurance plan which is equivalent to the coverage provided by the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, you may be eligible to opt out of the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan. The BC MSP coverage is not equivalent to the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan.

Health Insurance Overview

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

International Student Guide

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

View the guide