The province of British Columbia provides health care to all BC residents under the Medical Services Plan (MSP). BC health insurance is often described as free but there are premiums to be paid.
BC MSP Premiums
There is a monthly premium for health insurance in BC, based on family size.
||Monthly Premium (2011)
|3 or more
Premium assistance is available. If you make $30,000 or less, you may be eligible for premium assistance. Contact MSP for further details.
Residents That Qualify for BC MSP
To qualify for the BC Medical Services Plan, you must be a resident. This means that:
› You are a citizen of Canada, or lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence
› You are making your home in BC
› You are physically present in BC at least 6 months in a calendar year
› Or you are a dependent*, living in BC, of someone who already has BC MSP coverage.
*Dependents can be spouses or children who live in BC. A ‘Spouse’ means a person who is married or living and cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship, like common law. They can be the same gender as the applicant. A ‘child’ means to a person who is under 18 years old or under 24 and attending school full-time, for whom you are the legal ward.
Enrolling in the BC Medical Services Plan
You can’t be covered by BC MSP until you’ve been living in BC for 3 months. However, you should apply as soon as you get to BC to allow your application time to be processed, so your benefits will be available as soon as you’re eligible for coverage.
Applying for coverage with BC MSP is fairly straightforward. If you’re moving to BC for a job, your company may pay your BC MSP premiums for you. If that’s the case, they’ll provide you with the paperwork to fill in to apply for the group plan.
If you don’t have coverage through work, you’re responsible for applying yourself. Go to MSP’s website to download the form and send it to MSP. You’ll be required to provide information on how long you’ve been in the country. If you’re out of the country at all during your 3-month waiting period it can affect how quickly your benefits become available.
If you’re moving from another province, your old provincial health insurance will cover you until the BC MSP becomes active.
BC Health Insurance: What is Covered?
The BC MSP provides the following benefits:
› Medically required services provided by a physician.
› Maternity care provided by a physician or a midwife.
› Medically required eye exams - if your doctor refers you to an optometrist, or ophthalmologist, this is covered. Regular eye exams are not.
› Diagnostic services when ordered by a doctor, midwife, podiatrist, dental surgeon or oral surgeon. For example x-rays and blood work are covered.
› Dental and oral surgery when medically required to be performed at a hospital. This means the majority of dental and oral surgery is NOT covered.
› Orthodontic services related to severe congenital facial abnormalities.
› Routine eye exams for people 18 years of age or under, and people 65 years and older.
BC Health Insurance: What is Not Covered
BC MSP doesn’t provide coverage for the following items. Please note this list is not exhaustive. If something isn’t mentioned in the covered section, ask your physician.
› Cosmetic surgery or other services deemed to be not medically required.
› Dental services (except for those mentioned in covered section).
› Routine eye exams for those aged 19 to 64.
› Eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other equipment or appliances.
› Chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy, physical therapy and non-surgical podiatry services.
› Preventive services and screening tests not supported by evidence of medical effectiveness. For example, routine annual “complete” physical examinations, whole body CT scans, etc.
› Services of counsellors or psychologists.
› Medical examinations, certificates or tests required for: driving a motor vehicle, employment, life insurance, school or university, recreation and sporting activities, or immigration purposes.
› Prescription drugs (see the Fair PharmaCare Section below).
If a procedure or practice is NOT covered by MSP, then the physician must inform the patient of any charges before the service is provided.
Fair PharmaCare Plan
BC also has a pharmaceutical plan. All residents that are enrolled in MSP should apply for Fair PharmaCare. Based on your family’s income, you may be eligible to have some of the costs of your prescription drugs reimbursed by the program. You can find more information on the MSP website.