British Columbia Medical Services Plan provides coverage for medical and healthcare services that are medically necessary. This includes medical procedures and tests. Eligible residents are qualified under this program. They include those people with Canadian citizenship, those with a permanent residence in Canada, government-assisted refugees, International students with a valid study Visa as well as temporary foreign workers with a valid work visa.
Are you Eligible?
All the residents of British Columbia are required to apply for the Medical Services Plan. There are 4 categories that can be eligible to apply for this coverage, and each category has different eligibility criteria. The 4 categories and their eligibility criteria are discussed below.
If you are a resident of the province of British Columbia, you must fulfill the following eligibility criteria to apply for the Medical Services Plan.
- You must have Canadian citizenship or must be a lawful immigrant to Canada who gained permanent residence.
- You must have your primary residence in British Columbia.
- You must live in BC for a period of six months out of 12 months in a calendar.
- If you are an eligible resident of British Columbia, you can be on a vacation of up to 7 months during which you can be absent from BC.
If you are a dependent of a person who receives coverage under MSP, you too can be eligible for British Columbia Medical Services Plan. The person you are dependent on must fulfill the qualifications of a resident, you must be related to this person as a spouse, child or dependent post-secondary student.
You fall under this category if you are married to a resident of British Columbia or cohabiting and living together in a marriage-like relationship with someone who is eligible under MSP.
You fall in this category if you fulfill the following conditions.
- You are a child of someone who is a beneficiary or who fulfills the role of a parent.
- You are a minor.
- You must be supported by the beneficiary.
- You should not have a spouse.
You fall in this category if you fulfill the following criteria.
- Your age must fall between 18 and 25.
- You must be a full-time student at an authorized eligible post-secondary educational institution.
- You must receive support from a beneficiary who is a parent or parent figure.
First Nation Residents
Status Indians who are permanent residents of British Columbia are eligible under MSP in accordance with the First Nations Health Authority. Those BC First Nations who are benefitting from Health Canada’s Non-insured Health Benefits Program must be enrolled.
Those who have an MSP account or coverage from an employer or pension plans are suggested to contact the Regional office to make sure that they have been added to the First Nations Health Authority Eligibility List.
Other Individuals in B.C.
If you have a study or work permit or have gained a work permit through the working holiday program, you can be called a resident of B.C. The permit must have been issued by federal authority in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and must remain valid for more than six months. However, tourists and visitors to the province cannot qualify.
How to Apply
All the residents of British Columbia are required to enrol in the Medical Services Plan. If you are a newcomer in Canada, you must apply for coverage under MSP when you arrive. Coverage for you may start from 3 months after your arrival in British Columbia. It is recommended to gain private health insurance during the waiting period.
If you are shifting to British Columbia from another province, you can find out about coverage during the waiting period from your previous medical plan providers. When your family members arrive, they too can apply to be added to the plan. A waiting period of the family members will begin from the date of their individual arrival.
The estimated time taken to complete the online application is 15 minutes. The information entree in the form is saved on the computer until the form is closed or submitted. If you need assistive technology like screen readers, it is recommended you use a courier or mail service to submit your application.
The application is supported by Internet Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Explorer 11, Apple Safari web browsers. You must have identification for everyone who is applying. You will be required to upload digital photos of the documents that prove the citizenship and immigration status of all people applying. Keep your marriage certificate, divorce papers and legal name change handy.
Apply by Mail
Paper application form is also available. You must send a mail to the given address as follows.
Health Insurance BC
Medical Services Plan
PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P7
BC Services Card
To complete your Medical Services Plan application, you will have to gain a Photo British Columbia Services Card. This you can pick up from an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia driver license office. At this office, you will need the following documentation.
- You will have to give two identification proofs, one of them must be primary proof.
- You must have proof of a residence in the state of British Columbia.
- Your photograph will be taken.
You will not have to pay any fees for receiving this card. However, if you wish to combine your Service card with your driver’s license, an additional fee will be required. This British Columbia Services Card will help you access the health care benefits offered by your province.
Coverage Wait Period
Those who are becoming new residents of British Columbia or those returning to the province will have to wait for a period of time, approximately 3 months including the month of your arrival in British Columbia before coverage is provided.
The date that can be considered as the date of residency is determined by the Ministry of Health. It primarily depends on several factors which include the type of immigration status you hold. The waiting period does not start as soon as a person arrives in B.C. A tourist or a visitor’s waiting period starts when they gain the immigration status that is eligible to apply for MSP.
It is recommended that you apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in British Columbia rather than waiting for the end of the waiting period. This permits ample time for your application processing. When your spouse or dependents arrive in British Columbia, their waiting period is counted from their individual dates of arrival.
When your family members arrive in British Columbia, they will also be added to your account for MSP. They will be required to wait for their individual waiting period in British Columbia, but during this time, they can be covered by the Medical Insurance Plan of their previous province.
Members of the Discharged Armed Forces as well as their family members and spouses do not have to wait for the waiting period. They can receive immediate coverage.
Coverage During the Wait Period
Those moving to British Columbia must have coverage from the Medical Insurance Plan of their previous province during the waiting period in British Columbia. However, those arriving in British Columbia from outside Canada can obtain private insurance from a private company for the duration of the waiting period.
Emergency Medical Care
You can receive medical and hospital attention before you qualify for the Provincial program, but the costs will have to be covered by you unless there is some other form of insurance that covers your medical bills during that period of time. These costs can be high, so it is recommended that you get private insurance for the duration of your waiting period in British Columbia. Be aware that most of the private insurances won’t cover any of the pre-existing conditions in the body which includes your pregnancy too.
Appealing the Wait Period
The waiting period is put in place to protect the healthcare system from individuals who only wish to come to British Columbia to receive the healthcare benefits using the expenses of the public of British Columbia. However, a process is in place to allow individuals to appeal the waiting period. This appeal is available to those who need medical attention or procedure during the waiting period. Waiving of the waiting period is approved in very rare and extreme cases. Only those who have established their residency in British Columbia can apply for a waiver of the waiting period.
For the approval of an appeal for waiving the waiting period, many factors are considered. Authorities check if a verifiable error has been made by Health Insurance British Columbia during the assigning of the beginning date of MSP coverage, if the medical condition for which the appeal is made is diagnosed during the waiting period, how serious the condition is or if the person suffering has access to another insurance or can obtain an insurance during the waiting period.
Also, the cost of receiving medical care for the condition during the waiting period must be financially devastating to be able to obtain a waiver. Routine care or birthing of a baby will not qualify you for waiver. This process is not to be used as a means to obtain British Columbia’s healthcare services before the end of the waiting period.