Medical Insurance and Coverage - Frequently Asked Questions
What is MSP?
In B.C., public health insurance is called the Medical Services Plan – or MSP. It covers the cost of medically-necessary insured doctor services. Under the governments Medicare Protection Act, enrolment with MSP is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents.
Who is eligible for MSP?
If you are a holder of study and/or work permits, or working permits on a working holiday program, which are by issued Canada Immigration and are valid six (6) months or more. Tourists and visitors to B.C. do not qualify.
What is the MSP wait period?
New residents (international students) are required to complete a wait period consisting of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months before benefits can begin.
An example of the wait period is, if you arrived in BC on Aug 28, your wait period would be August, September, October.
MSP while travelling, Co-op and extended leave from living in BC for more than 6 months
If you are planning to leave BC for more than 6 months, you should contact MSP to confirm continued eligibility as they may suspend your MSP temporarily. Please note that you must reactivate your MSP account after returning to BC from the extended leave. For more details, visit MSP website.
Why do I need Guard.me medical insurance if I am eligible for MSP?
Okanagan College requires all international students to be covered by Guard.me medical insurance while you are on the MSP wait period and not yet covered by MSP.
When do I need to apply for MSP?
You should apply for MSP coverage soon after arriving in B.C., rather than at the end of the wait period, to allow time for about 1 month for your application to be processed.
What happens if I do not apply for MSP?
Okanagan College will auto-renew your Guard.me medical insurance each semester.
What if I already have MSP when I arrive at OC? Can I opt-out of Guard.me?
Yes, you will need to upload proof of MSP coverage effective the start of the semester at www.guard.me/oc The deadline to submit is the last day of the 1st month in the semester. Proof of MSP coverage can be front of MSP card plus:
- MSP approval letter with BC Services Card, or
- An MSP invoice from Revenue Services of BC showing you are currently covered by MSP.
Can I opt out of Guard.me insurance and get a refund?
Yes, but you can only opt out in the first month of the semester if you have BC MSP coverage when your classes start. For details see info here
If I did not use my guard.me policy, can I get a refund?
No. The policy is considered used because you had the benefit of the coverage even though no claims were made.
What are the Extended Health and Dental plan charges on my student financial account?
The Extended Health and Dental Plan (Green Shield/ Great-West Life) is additional coverage administered by your Student Union office (OCSU or VSAOC in Vernon). Enrollment and fees are mandatory for all full time academic students. However, if you are covered by an equivalent plan (such as by your employer), you can opt-out by going online. Note that Guard.me or MSP do not replace the Extended Health & Dental Plan.
What are MSP premiums and how much does it cost?
Residents of British Columbia (including students with a study permit) must pay premiums (fees) for MSP coverage. As of January 2018 these premiums are set by the BC Government at $37.50 (individual international students) per month and billed to your residential address by Services BC.