You’ve arrived for studies in Canada. While you’re focused on doing well in your program, you may at some point need to see a doctor – if you have family (a spouse and/or children), even more reason to know about medical options in Canada.

As many may already know, Canada has universal healthcare coverage for its citizens. As a student, you may wonder if this healthcare coverage applies to you. Well, if you’re studying in a degree program, such coverage eventually applies to you. Specifically, if you have a student visa for a program greater than 6 months, then you qualify – as opposed to coming to Canada on a visitor or tourist visa to study a few months of English, for example.


Each province within Canada has its own provincial authority to oversee healthcare. For BC, we have MSP – Medical Services Plan. What’s key to know is you need wait for the rest of the month in which you arrived in BC and then 2 more months… and then you can apply to MSP. For example, if you arrived on August 27 (for September classes), you would include the rest of August, and then September and October… making you eligible for MSP on November 1.


In BC, monthly costs for MSP are $64 for one person, $116 for a family of two, and $128 for a family of three or more. Other provinces, such as Ontario, charge no fee.


What’s covered in MSP? MSP covers hospital visits, medically-required services of a doctor or specialist, maternity care, laboratory services, and other medically-required services. Simply put, most students will need to visit a doctor and/or a hospital at some point, and these visits are covered.


What’s not covered? Generally, MSP does not cover any non-medically required services, such as a medical examination for a driver’s license, employment, etc. Other key items not covered by MSP include dental care (unless medically required surgery is necessary in a hospital), prescription drugs, and eye exams or corrective lenses (e.g. glasses or contact lenses). If you want insurance for these services, most colleges and universities offer extended healthcare coverage – which can cover some of the costs of dental work, prescription drugs, eye care, etc. – for a small fee (typically less than a dollar a day).


All you need to do is present your MSP card when you need medical attention. To get MSP, you need only fill out the online form and provide other supporting documents, such as a copy of your visa, letter of admissions to the university, etc. At Royal Roads University, please come the International Study Centre (ISC), and we’d be happy to help you with your application.


Of course, as a student, you’re likely keen to see more than just your university, city, or even province. If you do leave the province or country for a small period of time, be sure to get extra coverage to make sure you’re fine for anything not covered by MSP when outside of BC.

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