The British Columbia (BC) government Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) is a mandatory public health insurance plan for everyone who lives in BC for six months or longer. The BC MSP is an important part of benefitting from the health care available to all BC residents.The plan covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. If you are not enrolled, you will have to pay for medical expenses independently.
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 apply?
If you will live in BC for 6 months or longer, you are required by law to enrol in MSP and pay the plan’s health-care coverage fee.
You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. You cannot apply for MSP before you arrive.
When am I covered?
There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins: this is the balance of the month in which you arrive in British Columbia (BC), plus two full calendar months. For example, if you arrive in BC on August 25, you are eligible for MSP coverage starting November 1.
To cover the waiting period for MSP, most new international students are covered by iMED health insurance for your first three months in BC.
If you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you must apply to extend your MSP, otherwise you will not be covered.
If your study permit expires before you receive your new study or work permit, it’s very important to get temporary coverage - see below.
MSP coverage fees
As of January 1, 2020, all study permit holders are assessed a $75 health-care coverage fee per month. You must pay the British Columbia government directly.
If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be assessed the new 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.
The fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up-to-date information.
Changing from study permit to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
Even if your MSP coverage has not expired, once you get your PGWP, contact MSP by phone to update your account and request to have your fees changed. As a work permit holder, you do not need to pay the health-care coverage fee.
Getting your MSP card
When your application is processed, your MSP card, or BC Services Card, will be mailed to the address you provided in your application. Your BC Services Card will indicate your coverage period, which should match the expiration date of your study permit or work permit.
Using your MSP insurance
In most cases, you will not have to pay at the time you seek care for medically required services 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. The AMS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan is designed to cover these costs. Once you have MSP, you might need to register for the BC Fair PharmaCare Plan to enhance coverage for prescriptions.
See a full list of your medical and health care benefits provided by MSP.
In general, you should go to clinics for non-urgent medical care, and hospitals for emergencies. For emergencies and for an ambulance, call 911. To learn about accessing medical services in BC, see how to services and resources in BC or explore the BC Newcomers’ Guide, which is available in 8 languages.