A Guide to British Columbia MSP Health Plan

The British Columbia MSP Health Plan (BC MSP) is public health insurance that covers the costs of any necessary medically-insured doctor services. The public insurance health insurance plan is necessary for everyone residing in British Columbia for 6 months or longer. Find out everything about MSP BC, Pharmacare, and Health Card. Discover what's covered, what's not, and how to extend your coverage.
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    Free Healthcare Coverage in British Columbia

    In British Columbia, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) is termed public health insurance. MSP caters to medically required services of surgeons and physicians as well as oral and dental surgery when it is medically necessary to be conducted in a hospital.

    Coverage Summary

    If you're a British Columbia resident, you're eligible for MSP. It is mandatory to enroll yourself and your dependents with MSP failure to which you'll have to pay for medical costs independently.

    In the past, your income would have determined the monthly fee you would be required to pay. However, as of January 1, 2020, the MSP program completely eliminated those fees.

    Drug Coverage

    PharmaCare is B.C's publicly funded program that's handy for residents when it comes to paying for;

    • Pharmacy services
    • Medical supplies
    • Prescription drugs

    It is necessary that you're enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan. You can consider enrolling in the Fair PharmaCare plan which is for all B.C. residents.

    Coverage When Travelling in Canada and Outside of Canada

    Health coverage changes once you leave British Columbia. For starters, MSP does not provide coverage for treatment offered by health care practitioners (physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants) outside the province.

    If medical care isn't offered by a physician or you need an ambulance service or prescription while outside Canada or in another province, you'll cater for the entire cost of medical service offered. The Ministry of Health won't reimburse the fees, which often can range from several hundred to thousand dollars.

    If you're eligible for coverage while absent from British Columbia temporarily, MSP caters for unexpected medical services on the condition that the services are medically necessary. Additionally, the services should be provided by a certified/licensed physician and insured by MSP.

    Reimbursement for the doctor's services will be in Canadian funds. Payment won't exceed the amount payable if similar services had been rendered in British Columbia. You're responsible for any excess cost.

    PharmaCare does not offer coverage for medical supplies or prescription drugs obtained outside British Columbia. Moreover, the provincial assistant isn't offered to reduce payment for ambulance services outside British Columbia.

    Although British Columbia does not offer similar coverage for emergency hospital care when traveling outside Canada, it limits coverage to a daily payment of $75CAD maximum.

    When purchasing travel insurance, it is prudent to obtain insurance that covers the extra costs for hospital care, physician, and provincial services not insured outside British Columbia like ambulance services, prescription, etc.

    Purchasing additional private, additional insurance to supplement basic coverage before leaving the province or country is prudent.

    Find more information on health care benefits when outside the province or Canada here.

    Applying for A BC Health Card

    Before applying for health insurance coverage in British Columbia, having a valid BC Services Card is necessary. The government-issued card verifies both your age and identity. In addition to accessing health, the card can also be handy to open a bank account or access government services.

    If you are a new Canadian resident, you need to apply for the MSP immediately after you arrive. Your coverage starts three months after the arrival date in B.C. While you wait, you need to obtain health care insurance.

    If moving from another province, it is necessary to arrange for coverage with a former medical plan during the waiting period. If the rest of your family isn't here yet, they should maintain their existing provincial health care. Whenever they get back, you can submit an application to add them to your plan. The waiting period for every family member starts on the individual arrival date.

    If the MSP coverage will be under a group plan via your pension plan, union, or employer, you need to contact your group administrator for more details on applying.

    Do you already have MSP coverage and obtained a letter of notification informing you to renew your British Columbia Services card? If yes, then there's no need to submit a new application for registration. The only thing you need to do is renew your British Columbia Services Card.

    How to Apply in Person

    You can apply offline, in-person by downloading, completing, and sending a paper application form >> Application for Enrolment. Once you've completed the form, send it to:

    • Health Insurance BC
    • Medical Services Plan
    • PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt
    • Victoria BC V8W 9P7

    How To Apply Online

    The online application isn't complicated. It takes roughly 15 minutes to complete. All the data you provide is saved locally to the device or computer you're using until you submit the form or close your browser window.

    Note: If you're using an assistive device or screen reader, apply using this paper form.

    The online application supports both female (F) and male (M) gender designations. For submissions touching on a non-binary gender (X) designation, contact Health Insurance BC.

    Before you begin your online application, ensure you're using any of these web browsers;

    • Apple Safari
    • Google Chrome
    • Mozilla Firefox

    Forms and Documentation Required

    One of the requirements for online application is identification. You'll be needed to upload digital images of all forms or documents that support the name and immigration status or Canadian citizenship of all persons.

    If your current name does not match the names on your ID, you'll need to have a legal name or divorce decree certification, or a marriage certificate.

    • Here are the forms and documents needed;
    • For Canadian residents, a copy of proof of status
    • For international students, a copy of valid work or study permit
    • For family members, a copy of partner/spouse work permit, study permit, visitor record, or passport stamp indicating an arrival date in Canada

    From February 22, 2018, to fully complete the enrolment for MSP, adult Canadian citizens, as well as Permanent Residents, need to get a Photo BC Services Card through visiting the ICBC (Insurance Corporation of BC) driver licensing office.

    • Book an appointment to visit ICBC driver licensing office at a time and location that suits you. Visit icbc.com/appointment for more information. At the office, you'll need to;
    • Provide 2 pieces of identification, one needs to be your primary ID. Click icbc.com/acceptedID for more information.
    • ·Provide proof that you're a British Columbia Resident
    • ·Have a photo taken

    Note: Getting the BC Services Card is free, you don't need to pay for anything. If you opt to combine the card with a driver's license, you'll have to pay for fees that apply to a regular driver's license. The BC Services Card is handy when accessing benefits touching on provincial health care. Your card will contain your PHN.

    Individuals below the age of 18 years and 6 months of age automatically get a Non-Photo BC Services Card from the HIBC in their mail. If you need more information on the BC Services Card, visit gov.bc.ca/bcservicescard.

    Renewing or Replacing Your MSP BC Health Card

    Enhanced security levels not only make your card secure but also help protect privacy meaning you have to do several things to renew or replace your card. The steps you need to take depend on the type of British Columbia Services Card since each has unique eligibility requirements.

    Renewing Your Health Card

    You can renew your card before the current one expires or if it has already expired. It is necessary to have an unexpired valid BC Services Card to set up your BC Services Card app for effortless access to government services online.

    Replacing Your Health Card

    The steps to replace a damaged, stolen, or lost card depend on the type. If you have a combined Services Card and BC Driver's License or Photo BC Services Card, do the following:

    • Report the missing card by calling the ICBC driver licensing center immediately – Victoria 250 978-8300 or Elsewhere in British Columbia 800 950-1498.
    • Replace the card by following the steps necessary on how to get a card.

    If yours is a Non-Photo BC Services Card, Call Health Insurance BC immediately.

    Changing Your Address On Your Health Card

    For one reason or another, it might be necessary to change your address. Remember it is essential that you keep your personal information as current as possible. You can update your address for your British Columbia Health Card online.

    If your card has a photo, you'll get an updated address sticker that you'll attach to the card.

    Note: Updating your address online isn't possible for those with an enhanced EIC, a British Columbia Identification Card, or an EDL. In these scenarios, you have to contact ICBC directly.

    MSP BC Coverage Details

    high school students and teacher.

    Students Benefits

    Effective September 1, 2019, every international post-secondary and k-12 student will start to pay a healthcare coverage fee of $37.50 monthly per month. With the abolition of MSP premiums, the health coverage fee for every international student is $75/month.

    The health fee applies to international students.

    What Is and Isn't Covered Under MSP

    MSP is a provincial insurance program that caters to your necessary medical services. These comprise medically necessary offered by midwives and physicians, as well as oral surgery and dental surgery conducted in a hospital.

    Moreover, the services handle eye examinations if medically necessary and several orthodontic services. MSP also pays for diagnostic services including but not limited to x-rays. Supplementary benefits offered by health care practitioners might also be covered. They include non-surgical podiatry, physical therapy, naturopathy, massage therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture.

    In summary, MSP covers the following;

    • Medical services offered by an MSP-enrolled physician
    • Maternity care offered by a midwife or physician
    • Medically necessary eye examinations offered by an optometrist or ophthalmologist for adults in the 19 – 64 age bracket
    • Eye Exams - Yearly eye examinations for seniors 65+ and children aged 0 – 18
    • Wisdom teeth – The abstraction of healthy wisdom teeth, although impacted, isn't a benefit. MSP insured service covers surgical removal of impacted 3rd molars only when the hospitalization is medically necessary. This is because of the extremely sophisticated nature of the extraction and where there's associated pathology.
    • Diagnostic services, comprising x-rays, are offered at approved diagnostic institutions when ordered by a registered oral surgeon, dental surgeon, podiatrist, midwife, or physician
    • Oral or dental surgery when medically needed to be conducted in hospital excluding root canals, crowns, caps, fillings, etc.
    • Orthodontic services touch on severe congenital facial abnormalities

    For more information on everything covered by the Health Plan visit the MSP BC Website.

    In summary, MSP does not cover the following:

    Services not deemed medically necessary like cosmetic surgery

    • Dental – Any dental service that is not outlined under the benefits above
    • frequent eye examinations for individuals 19 – 64 years
    • hearing aids, eyeglasses, and any other appliance or equipment
    • non-surgical podiatry services, physical therapy, naturopathy, massage therapy,chiropractic, and acupuncture (all these except for MSP beneficiaries getting supplemental benefits)
    • Preventive screening tests and services not supported by evidence of medical effectiveness like in the case of a prostate-specific antigen, whole-body CT scans, annual 'complete' physical examinations
    • Psychologists or counselor services
    • Medical tests, certificates, or examinations necessary for;
    • Immigration purposes
    • Sporting and recreational activities
    • University or school
    • Life insurance
    • Employment driving a motor vehicle

    For more information on what isn't covered by the BC MSP Health Plan.

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