iMED: Temporary health insurance for international students

About iMED

The iMED program is a temporary basic health insurance plan required as a condition of registering as an international student who is new to UBC. iMED provides you with basic health insurance during the three-month waiting period before you qualify for the British Columbia-government run Medical Services Plan (MSP), or for the duration of your study term if you are a one-term exchange student or a VIRS student.

The provider is David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS), located in Vancouver.

See health insurance for international students to learn about the differences between iMED, MSP, and the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan.

Who is eligible and how do I get enrolled?

All new international students who are assessed AMS/GSS student fees are automatically enrolled in iMED when you register for your first course. Check your Student Service Centre (SSC) account to confirm you are charged for iMED. 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.

Who is not eligible for iMED? 

Returning UBC international students who previously had iMED coverage, students who are not assessed AMS/GSS student  fees, and domestic students are not eligible for iMED. You should purchase private temporary insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan (GCHP). 

When am I covered?

iMED coverage dates are based on the type and duration of your study program. iMED covers your first 3 months in Canada to cover the 3-month MSP waiting period, or the full duration of your program of studies if you are a one-term exchange student or Visiting International Research Student (VIRS).

Check your iMED coverage dates on your iMED card. Depending on when you arrive in Canada, you might need to change your coverage dates - see the next section for details.

Depending on when you arrive in Canada, you might need to take action to add to or change your iMED coverage dates.

You may also be covered while travelling from your home country or primary place of residence to Canada if your travel itinerary is 10 days or less, and if your arrival date in Canada is not earlier than the earliest iMED coverage start date available for the first term of your UBC program.

iMED will cover you for your first 3 months in Canada. 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

iMED is designed to cover you for the waiting period before you become eligible for the British Columbia-government run Medical Services Plan (MSP), up to a maximum of 3 months. The MSP waiting period includes the remainder of the month you arrive in BC, plus the next 2 calendar months. For example, if you were to arrive in BC on August 25, you would be eligible for MSP on November 1.

One-term exchange students

One-term exchange students are students who have been approved by Go Global to study at UBC on an exchange program.

One-term exchange students are covered as follows:

  • Winter Session Term 1 (September – December 2022): August 30, 2022 – January 2, 2023
  • Winter Session Term 2 (January – April 2023): December 25, 2022 – April 29, 2023
  • Summer Session Term 1 (May – June 2023): April 23, 2023 – August 26, 2023
  • Summer Session Term 2 (July – August 2023): May 21, 2023 – September 23, 2023

Visiting International Research Students (VIRS)

All Visiting International Research Students will be covered under iMED. Coverage and costs will be determined by the duration of the research period.

Changing your iMED coverage dates

If you arrive in Canada before your iMED coverage start date

If you will arrive in Canada before the earliest iMED coverage start date available for your UBC program (for example, if your coverage starts August 1 but you will travel in July), you should purchase extra coverage directly from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS). Go to the Advance Coverage page for more information.

Advance Coverage should be purchased before you arrive in Canada. If you apply for Advance Coverage after your arrival in Canada, you might not be covered until the date of your purchase.

If you arrive in Canada later than the calendar month in which your iMED starts

Degree-seeking and two-term exchange students

For example, if your iMED starts August 1, but you will travel in September, then you must submit the Arrival Date Confirmation / Coverage Dates Change Form (pdf) to DCIS so that your coverage can be adjusted to cover your 3-month waiting period for MSP. Submit supporting documents along with your form which indicate your arrival date, such as your flight itinerary, boarding pass(es), a copy of your study permit, passport stamp or other landing documents.

Coverage date change requests should be submitted before you travel to Canada (up to 3 weeks before arrival), or as soon as possible after your arrival.

One-term exchange students

Your iMED coverage dates are fixed and cannot be changed.

If you arrive in Canada and do not enter BC within the same calendar month

If you arrive in a Canadian province or territory other than British Columbia (BC), and do not enter BC within the same calendar month as your arrival in Canada, then you may need to purchase an iMED Extension in order to be covered for your full BC MSP waiting period. Please contact DCIS for assistance.

How much does iMED cost?

iMED costs $225 for the first 3 months, or $315 if you are a one-term exchange student (effective September 1, 2020). You are also charged a one-time $10.34 direct billing fee (effective May 1, 2022) so you do not have to pay up-front at local emergency rooms.

What if I withdraw from UBC or defer? 

If you defer your program and withdraw from all courses in which you registered before the add/drop deadline, your iMED fees will automatically be removed. View your “Financial Summary” under Finances in your Student Service Centre (SSC) to verify that your iMED fee has been removed from your account.

When you register in the future, you will automatically be enrolled in iMED again.

Any iMED fee charged to your account will be frozen starting from the add/drop deadline if you are still enrolled. If you withdraw from UBC or defer to the next term after the add/drop deadline, the iMED fee will not be removed and you will be required to pay for it.

How do I get my iMED card?

After registering for your first course at UBC, David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) will automatically email your iMED card with the default coverage dates set for your program to the email address you provided to UBC.

Check your inbox and junk-mail folders. During your coverage dates, print your iMED card and keep it with you so that you (or someone on your behalf) can access it along with your student ID in case you need medical attention.

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 your iMED card has incorrect information, please email DCIS at imed@david-cummings.com. In your email write “Incorrect iMED card” as the subject line, and in the message you must include your name, student number, and date of arrival in BC.

The front and back of an iMED health insurance card.

How do I use my iMED insurance?

iMED covers emergency hospitalization and medical services (including outpatient treatment at a doctor's clinic) for an unexpected sickness or injury. The full policy is available on the iMED website.

With your iMED card, you don’t have to pay for your visit if you see a doctor at UBC Student Health Service, the University Village Medical and Dental Clinics, or the UBC Physical Therapy & Research Clinic on campus. However, you will pay for any test that is ordered by a doctor there, so keep the receipt and submit a claim on the iMED website later. Your iMED card is recognized for direct billing at emergency facilities and the following medical clinics and pharmacies:

On-campus services

Off-campus services

You can see a doctor in any other clinic or hospital in British Columbia, but you may need to pay upfront for medical costs during your visit. You must keep the receipts in order to make a claim to be reimbursed for health services covered by iMED.

Carry a copy of your study permit,or keep a digital copy on your mobile device at all times. You must present a copy of your study permit with your iMED card if treated at a hospital to ensure you are billed fees applicable to a resident of BC.

Opting out of iMED

You can apply to opt out of iMED if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are already covered by iMED, BC MSP or by another Canadian provincial or territorial health plan before the iMED coverage start date (August 1 for Winter Term 1 and December 1 for Winter Term 2).
  • The third-party organization which is funding your studies requires, and has selected and purchased a basic health insurance plan on your behalf as part of its funding. It must be a formal organization such as a government body, corporation, organization or foundation, not your parents or family members.

If you're already covered by iMED, BC MSP, or another Canadian provincial or territorial health plan

You can apply to opt out of iMED using the DCIS iMED Opt Out Form (pdf) by email to imed@david-cummings.com or by faxing it along with supporting documents to DCIS at 604 228 9807.

If you are covered by the BC MSP or another Canadian provincial or territorial health plan, a copy of your provincial medical card is not sufficient proof of coverage. You must submit a recent billing statement, or a letter of enrolment confirming the start date of your coverage with the provincial or territorial plan.

If you're being funded by a third party

Download the UBC iMED Opt Out Form (pdf) and send the completed form with supporting documents through the International Student Advising online form.

Exchange students whose home institution administers private health insurance without funding your studies do not qualify to opt out from iMED.

Participating in the Western Deans Agreement alone does not qualify you to opt out from iMED.

Conditions to opt out from iMED

Students who have a claim made or pending on their iMED policy are not eligible to opt out from iMED.

Students who have enrolled dependents onto their iMED plan are not eligible to opt out from iMED.

Enrol your family for iMED

Your spouse, partner, or dependent children can also be covered by David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) for the duration of their stay or until they qualify for MSP. Your family members' insurance is not administered by UBC, but you can purchase iMED for them directly through DCIS. If you are not covered by iMED at the moment, you can inquire about other health insurance options for your dependents.

If you add your family member(s) to your iMED account, you cannot opt out or cancel your iMED unless you withdraw your family from the iMED plan before the coverage starts. This also applies to advance coverage. 

If you have questions

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International Student Guide

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

View the guide