Canada has a public health care system, but if you don’t have adequate insurance, health care can be very expensive. It’s very important that international students have both basic and extended health insurance for the duration of their studies.
Basic health insurance
If you plan to be in British Columbia for 6 months or longer, you are required by law to enroll in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). You must apply as soon as you arrive in BC. There is a 3-month waiting period for MSP; for example, if you arrive in August and apply for MSP in August, your coverage begins November 1.
You must have insurance to fill this 3-month waiting period. Please see the applicable section below for more details.
Coming to British Columbia from abroad
You must apply for MSP as soon as you get to British Columbia. You can find information about MSP and how to apply in the International Student Guide, or get help in-person at International Student Advising.
As a new international student, you will automatically be enrolled for iMED, which provides you with basic medical coverage during the 3-month MSP waiting period. If you are a new 1-term exchange student, you will automatically be enrolled for iMED for the 4-month term.
Coming to UBC from within British Columbia
If you’re already enrolled in MSP, continue to make regular payments, and have a valid BC Services Card, you’re good to go!
Even if you’re already enrolled in MSP, you will automatically be enrolled in iMED effective August 1. iMED provides you with temporary insurance for your first 3 months at UBC. If you already have MSP coverage that is in effect by August 1, you can opt-out of iMED before the add/drop deadline.
Coming to British Columbia from another province or territory in Canada
If you have basic insurance from your home province or territory in Canada, you will usually be allowed to carry your coverage for the first 3 months of your stay in British Columbia (except Quebec). The 3 months will cover you for the MSP waiting period.
Additionally, you will automatically be enrolled in iMED effective August 1. iMED provides you with temporary insurance for your first 3 months at UBC. If you already have health coverage from another province or territory that is in effect by August 1, you can opt-out of iMED before the add/drop deadline.
Extended health insurance
In addition to basic health coverage, you are strongly encouraged to have extended health insurance while at UBC.
All students who pay AMS fees are automatically enrolled in the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan. To verify your enrollment, check your fees on the Student Service Centre and look for the ‘Med/dent fee’. Exchange students may be able to apply after arrival; please visit the Health & Dental Plan office for more information. This plan covers things MSP does not, such as dental or vision care; it does not replace basic MSP (or an equivalent plan). To be eligible for all aspects of the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan, you must first be covered by MSP (or other provincial or territorial health insurance) or iMED or have equivalent coverage purchased in Canada.
If you are a student moving to Canada with family members, learn about their health insurance options here.
If you have questions please contact International Student Advising—they're happy to help.