Medical Services Plan (MSP) for Newcomers

By Remitbee - Mar 4, 2022

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting BC Public Health Insurance

Under the Canadian Constitution, each province provides health care to its constituents. Moving to Canada ensures that newcomers have access to universal health care. In British Columbia, getting health care benefits can be done through applying for MSP or Medical Services Plan.

The MSP is government-funded, single-payer health insurance mandatory to all eligible residents and their dependents as part of the Medicare program. MSP provides free or reduced-cost health and medical care to the general public as a government-sponsored program. It also covers many medically required services, such as maternity care, eye examinations, diagnostic services, dental and oral surgeries, and orthodontic services.

As you go along this article, you will know more about the BC MSP application, including its coverage, eligibility, required documentation, and steps to apply for an MSP card as a newcomer to Canada.

Applying for BC MSP (Medical Services Plan of British Columbia)

Canada's emphasis on health care demands residents obtain their health insurance cards. In the case of British Columbia residents, they must enroll in the Medical Services Plan (MSP). This will provide the person with their own Personal Health Number (PHN).

If you're a newcomer to British Columbia, it is recommended to apply for MSP as soon as possible after arriving. The card acts as proof that you, as a holder, are eligible for free health care in the province.

Whether it's a medical test or a surgical treatment, hospitals, clinics, and health centers will look for your MSP Card. To get the benefits from the MSP, one must meet specific eligibility criteria.

MSP Eligibility

You are eligible for MSP if: - You're a Canadian citizen or have been lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence, have British Columbia as your hometown, and be physically present for at least six (6) months in a calendar year in BC - You are a spouse married to or cohabiting with the resident; a minor child supported by the beneficiary parent; a dependent post-secondary student between the ages of 18 and 25 who is enrolled full-time in a recognized institution and is financially supported by a beneficiary who is the student's parent or acting guardian - You are a First Nations resident enrolled in the MSP as a Status Indian residing in BC. - You are aged 18 to 35 holding a study or work permit

MSP Coverage

For BC residents, MSP provides the following medical benefits: - medically required services provided by a physician - maternity care from a physician or a midwife - eye examinations from ophthalmologists or optometrists for adults aged 19 to 64 - yearly eye examinations for children aged 0 to 18 and seniors 65 years and above diagnostic services, such as x-rays and laboratory services, in approved facilities - dental and oral surgery medically required to be conducted in hospitals - orthodontic services related to severe congenital facial abnormalities

Aside from the general medical health care benefits, MSP cardholders can also avail of supplementary benefits by getting these services from approved providers:

  • acupuncture
  • chiropractic medicine
  • massage therapy
  • naturopathy
  • non-surgical podiatry
  • physical therapy

    What is not covered by the MSP?

    In most cases, MSP will only cover necessary medical services, such as doctor appointments, laboratory tests, or hospital visits. The BC health care system, however, does not provide coverage for the following:

  • Not medically required services, like cosmetic surgery
  • Dental restorative services, like fillings, caps, crowns, and root canals
  • regular eye exams for those aged 19 to 64
  • eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other appliances or equipment prescription drugs
  • preventive services and screening tests
  • services of counsellors or psychologists
  • other medical examinations, certificates or tests required for driving, employment, insurance, school/university, recreation and sports, or immigration

How do I apply for an MSP Card?

You must fill out an application to get your BS services card. This application can be done online or a paper application form that you can mail here:

Health Insurance BC Medical Services Plan PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt Victoria BC V8W 9P7

In preparing for your application, you must prepare your documents, especially your original files, since photocopies are not accepted. Most adults must also obtain a Photo BC Services Card by visiting an Insurance Corporation of BC or ICBC office to complete MSP enrollment.

For Canadian Citizens

  • Canadian Birth Certificate
  • Canadian Passport
  • Canadian Citizen Card or Certificate

For landed immigrants

  • Record of Landing signed by Canadian Immigration
  • Permanent Resident Card

For Temporary Permit Holders

  • Work or Student Permit valid for six (6) months or longer
  • Visitor Permit with case type 13; case type 10 permits must imply a religious worker.

Other Supporting Documents

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Legal Name Change Certificate
  • Valid Passport with Entry Stamps and Acceptance Foils (for Diplomats)

As long as all required documents are readied, you can immediately process your application. The MSP waiting period is made up of the remainder of the month in which you establish residency in British Columbia, plus two months. This means you will not be eligible for a Health Card until the 3-month coverage wait period is over.

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