Navigating Health Insurance

There are two types of health insurance: basic coverage and extended coverage. The BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) is basic coverage provided by the province, which you’re required to enrol in if you’re a BC resident. Extended coverage is provided under the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan, which students can choose to opt out of if they wish.

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

MSP is your best friend. This is what you need to sign up for in order to access Canada’s mythical universal health care. It covers medically required doctor visits, surgeries, hospital visits and dental/oral surgery when it’s medically required to be performed in a hospital.

Applying is simple, just go to the BC government website’s section on MSP. However, there’s a two- to three-month waiting period for those coming out of province or out of Canada. It’s important that you do have coverage during that period. UBC recommends iMED to cover the waiting period, but you can also buy your own private insurance during the wait.

Once you’re processed, you’ll receive a personal health card in the mail. The plan is free for domestic students and costs $75 a month for international students. Make sure to bring your personal health card everytime you go to the doctor, otherwise you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan

This plan costs extra money, but it covers a lot of things MSP doesn’t. It covers 80 per cent of costs of prescriptions, full costs of vaccinations, up to $300 in vision care annually, up to $750 in dental care annually and up to $5 million in travel insurance. The annual fee is $256.92 and it’s automatically included in your tuition and fees, unless you decide to opt out.

Claiming on this plan is fairly simple. They operate through Pacific Blue Cross, but all the information on claiming and more information on the plan in general can be found on