The British Columbia (BC) government Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) is a mandatory public health insurance plan for everyone who lives in BC for 6 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. If you are a study permit holder, you’re required to 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.
You can now apply for the Fair PharmaCare plan to enhance your coverage at the same time you apply for MSP. Check the “Register for BC PharmaCare” section below for details.
When am I covered?
There is a 3-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 3-month waiting period for MSP, most new-to-UBC international students are covered by iMED health insurance for your first 3 months in Canada. Returning international students whose iMED insurance policy has already expired and are not re-enrolled for iMED are advised to purchase private temporary health insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan. If you are a part-time student, UBC employee, visiting instructor, postdoctoral fellow, or other non-student affiliate and need temporary health insurance, contact David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) for information about "non-student" medical insurance plan options.
BC MSP coverage will be provided to the same expiry date as your status in Canada (such as your study or work permit), unless you leave BC for an extended period.
If you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you must apply to extend your MSP online, otherwise you will not be covered.
If you applied for a new study or work permit and your study permit expires before you receive it, you will have maintained status. It’s important to take action and request temporary MSP coverage while under maintained status.
MSP coverage fees
As of January 1, 2020, all study permit holders are charged a $75 health-care coverage fee per month. You will receive a bill from the British Columbia government, and must pay the BC government directly. You can pay online and set up online services, such as seeing your balance, setting up paperless invoicing, and autopayments.
If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be charged 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 charged 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 (formerly known as "BC CareCard"), 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 status in Canada (such as your study or work permit). Note that your card will not include your photo.
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 some of these costs.
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. Learn about when to go to an Emergency Department or Urgent & Primary Care Centre, finding services in BC, and explore the BC Newcomers’ Guide to learn about healthcare in BC, which is available in 13 languages. You can also call 811 to reach Health Link BC 24/7 for assistance and to speak to healthcare professionals such as a nurse.