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 in one or more on-campus courses 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 studies if you are a one-term exchange student or a Visiting International Research Student (VIRS).

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

Visit the health insurance for international students page 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 charged AMS/GSS student fees are automatically enrolled in iMED when you register in your first on-campus (in-person) course. Check your “Financial Summary” under Finances in your Student Service Centre (SSC) to confirm you are charged for iMED. 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, students who register for off-campus (distance learning) courses only, and domestic students are not eligible for iMED.

If you will be enrolled in full-time studies, you should purchase private temporary insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan (GCHP). If you will be enrolled in part-time studies, contact David Cummings Insurance Serives (DCIS) for information about "non-student" medical insurance plan options.

If you're not enrolled in on-campus courses

UBC will not automatically charge iMED fees to new-to-UBC international students who register in off-campus (distance learning) courses only. When selecting your courses, please note that there are online courses which are not part of the distance learning program. Therefore, students who select online courses only could still be charged for iMED fees.

Upon registering for your first term of studies at UBC, you should check your “Financial Summary” under Finances in your Student Service Centre (SSC) to confirm if you have been charged student fees, which include iMED fees.

If you are not charged iMED fees because you enrolled in off-campus (distance learning) courses only, and you plan to travel to Canada, or you are already in Canada without health insurance, you should purchase private temporary insurance following the instructions above. If you will be residing in British Columbia for 6 months or longer, you must submit an online application to enrol with the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP).

If you are charged iMED fees, you plan to complete your entire program of studies online while being physically outside Canada, and you have not been in or travelled to Canada at any time during your program at UBC, you should be eligible to opt out of iMED.

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).

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 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 9, you would be eligible for MSP on November 1.

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

Check the iMED coverage dates on your iMED card. Depending on when you arrive in Canada, you might need to change your coverage dates.

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:

  • 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
  • Winter Session Term 1 (September – December 2023): August 26, 2023 – January 2, 2024
  • Winter Session Term 2 (January – April 2024): December 25, 2023 – May 2, 2024

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 iMED 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 coverage starts

Degree-seeking and two-term exchange students

If you will arrive in Canada in the calendar month after your iMED coverage starts (for example, if your iMED coverage starts August 1 but you will travel in September), you must submit the iMED Coverage Dates Change Form to David Cummings Insurance Services (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 David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) for assistance.

If you start your program online from outside Canada

You might be eligible to request that your iMED fees be shifted to your next academic term at UBC, and for your iMED coverage period to be changed to align with your 3-month waiting period for MSP.

To do so, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are a new-to-UBC international student
  • You're registered in one or more on-campus courses
  • You're enrolled in a UBC program that lasts two terms or longer
  • You'll study online from outside Canada during your first term of studies
  • You'll start on-campus study in the subsequent term

You must not have been in or travelled to Canada at any time during your first term of studies at UBC to qualify to request the iMED fees and coverage to be shifted to the next academic term.

You must submit the UBC iMED Fee Shift Request Form (pdf) to the iMED Coordinator through the International Student Advising online form. The request must be received by the add/drop deadline (last day to drop courses without a W standing) as per the UBC Academic Calendar.

Normal processing time is 2 to 8 weeks once required documents are received. In periods of peak volume the processing time can be longer.

In order to avoid extra charges and having your account put on hold, you should pay for your iMED fees if the tuition payment deadline is approaching and your request to have the iMED fees and coverage shifted is under review.

If your request is approved, the iMED fees and coverage period will be shifted to the next academic term. If the iMED costs increase, you will be charged the current iMED fees.

How much does iMED cost?

As of August 1, 2023, iMED costs $237 for 3 months or $338 if you are a one-term exchange student.

As of May 1, 2023, if you are a Vancouver campus student, you are also charged a one-time $10.54 direct billing fee so that eligible medical expenses can be billed directly to the Claims Administrator, MSH.

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 (last day to drop courses without a W standing) as per the UBC Academic Calendar, your iMED fees will automatically be removed from your UBC tuition account. Review 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 as per the UBC Academic Calendar, 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 payment will be required.

What if I change my immigration status and I am no longer an international student?

What will happen with your iMED fees will depend on when you change your immigration status from an international student to a permanent resident or Canadian citizen with UBC Enrolment Services.

Before the iMED coverage start date

If the change in your immigration status happens before the iMED coverage start date (August 1 for Winter Term 1 and December 1 for Winter Term 2), the iMED fees will automatically be removed from your UBC tuition account.

If you have received an iMED card by email, the coverage has been cancelled and will not be provided to you. Please do not use the iMED card to seek medical care while you are in Canada.

If you are not already covered under the BC MSP provincial health insurance:

If you will be residing in British Columbia for 6 months or longer, you must submit an online application to enrol with the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP).

Between the iMED coverage start date and the add/drop deadline for the term that iMED was assessed

If the change in your immigration status happens between the iMED coverage start date (August 1 for Winter Term 1 and December 1 for Winter Term 2) and the add/drop deadline (last day to drop courses without a W standing) as per the UBC Academic Calendar, iMED fees will manually be reinstated to your UBC tuition account.

You will receive your iMED card by email, and the coverage will continue to be provided. Learn more about how to use your iMED insurance.

If you are already covered by the 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), you should be eligible to opt out of iMED.

If you will be residing in British Columbia for 6 months or longer, you must submit an online application to enrol with the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP).

After the add/drop deadline for the term that iMED was assessed

If the change in your immigration status happens after the add/drop deadline (last day to drop courses without a W standing) as per the UBC Academic Calendar, iMED fees will automatically be kept in your UBC tuition account.

You will receive your iMED card by email, and the coverage will continue to be provided. Learn how to use your iMED insurance.

If you are already covered by the 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), you should be eligible to opt out of iMED.

If you will be residing in British Columbia for 6 months or longer, you must submit an online application to enrol with the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP).

How do I get my iMED card?

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

When you will receive your iMED card will depend on when you register for on-campus courses with UBC. iMED cards will start to be emailed to students about 2 weeks before the coverage period starts. If you registered at a later date, the normal processing time is 2 weeks. In peak periods the processing time can be longer.

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 a copy of your study permit (if you have one). Consider saving a digital copy of your documents on your phone as well.

If you did not receive your iMED card by the start of the iMED coverage period, it might be because you have reigstered with UBC at a later date. If that is not the case, then check the inbox and junk-mail folders of the email address you provided to UBC to ensure you did not receive it, then 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, UBC student number, and date of arrival in BC.

If your iMED card has incorrect information, 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, UBC student number, and date of arrival in BC.

iMED Health Insurance Card

How do I use my iMED insurance?

iMED covers emergency hospitalization and medical services for an unexpected sickness or injury, including treatment at a doctor's clinic. While David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) is the company that handles iMED enrolment and general support, MSH Assistance handles claims and requests for pre-authorization of medical services.

Visit the iMED website to review the iMED policy for details of coverage, to learn how and when to contact MSH Assistance, and how to submit claims.

Accessing health care services

Students covered under iMED may seek medical care at any licensed medical clinic or hospital. Medical expenses that are eligible under the iMED policy can be submitted to MSH Assistance either directly by the medical facility, or by you. You are usually billed for treatment at a hospital after you are discharged from the hospital (when you have finished treatment), while you will likely be asked to pay up-front for consultations with a doctor.

If you need care at a hospital, you should always show your iMED card and your study permit (if you have one) when you are being admitted and ask if the hospital will agree to bill expenses to MSH. You must also notify MSH Assistance immediately with the policy number on your iMED card.

Important tips

  • If you are hospitalized, you, or someone on your behalf, must contact MSH Assistance immediately with the policy number on your iMED card. Certain medical services require that you contact MSH Assistance to request pre-authorization. Examples include surgery, specialist consultation, and specialized diagnostic tests like MRI or CT scan.
  • Carry a photocopy or digital copy of your study permit (if you have one), because you must present a copy of your study permit with your iMED card if you are treated at a hospital to ensure you are billed fees as a resident of BC.
  • You don’t have to hold a study permit to use your iMED plan. If you or your dependents are in Canada as a visitor or worker and you or your dependents are enrolled in iMED, bring your iMED card, photo ID, and any immigration documents you have when seeking medical services.

Visit the iMED website to learn more about accessing health care.

Direct billing

Several health care providers near the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, including some emergency departments, recognize iMED health insurance and will bill eligible medical expenses directly to MSH, meaning you could have fewer or even no up-front medical costs to pay out of pocket. To access one of these "direct billing" facilities, you will need to show your iMED card, a piece of photo identification, and your study permit (if you have one).

If the reason you seek medical attention is not covered under the iMED policy, or if the clinic or pharmacy is unable to confirm the eligibility of the medical service you seek, you may be required to pay the clinic or pharmacy up front. In that case, you can still submit a claim to MSH Assistance to determine if your expense is eligible for coverage. Visit the iMED website to learn how to submit claims.

When a hospital or emergency clinic fee is billed directly to your iMED insurance, you may still be billed separately for related medical services, such as ambulance fees, laboratory tests, prescription medication, or specialist fees. If you are issued a medical bill, be sure to submit it promptly to MSH Assistance with a claim form.

You can show your iMED card for direct billing to MSH at the following medical clinics, emergency departments, and pharmacies.

Direct billing on-campus

Vancouver campus
Okanagan campus

Direct billing off-campus

Vancouver
Okanagan

Map of iMED direct billing locations on- and off-campus

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.
  • You will complete your entire program of studies online while being physically outside Canada, and you have not been in or travelled to Canada at any time during your program at UBC.

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

Download the DCIS iMED Opt Out Form (pdf) and send the completed form with supporting documents to David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) by email to imed@david-cummings.com.

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), then send the completed form and supporting documents to the iMED Coordinator through the International Student Advising online form.

Supporting documents include a letter from the third party funding your studies stating that they have selected, required and purchased a health insurance plan for you as part of the funding you will receive to cover the costs of your studies at UBC. You will find the complete list of supporting documents as part of the UBC iMED Opt Out form.

For you to qualify, the private health insurance you are being provided must be equivalent to the coverage provided by iMED.

Please note the following do not qualify for an opt-out of iMED under this category:

  • Exchange students whose home institution administers private health insurance without funding your studies
  • Participating in the Western Deans Agreement

If you'll complete your entire program from outside Canada

Download the UBC iMED Self-Declaration Form (pdf) and send the completed form to the iMED Coordinator through the International Student Advising online form.

You must not have been in or travelled to Canada at any time during your program of studies at UBC to qualify to opt out of iMED under this category.

If you complete 2 terms or more outside Canada, your opt-out application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Conditions to opt out from iMED

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

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

Deadline to apply to opt out from iMED

Opt out applications must be received by the add/drop deadline (last day to drop courses without a W standing) as per the UBC Academic Calendar.

Normal processing time is 2 to 8 weeks once required documents are received. In peak periods, the processing time can be longer. 

To avoid extra charges and having your account on hold, you should pay for your iMED fees if the tuition payment deadline is approaching and your request to opt out of iMED is under review.

If your request is approved, the iMED fees will be credited to your tuition account. If you are a one-term student who has already paid for iMED fees, UBC will refund you the amount through the same means used for payment. Contact an Enrolment Services Advisor (ESA) if you have questions about receiving the iMED refund payment from UBC.

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. 

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

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