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In Canada, there are two main levels of medical insurance, basic and extended. These serve different purposes and generally cover different types of medical services.

Many residents of Canada have multiple layers of medical insurance – including some basic and extended coverage – to increase the range of medical services available to them.

Basic medical insurance

Basic medical insurance generally covers medically-required services including visits to doctors and hospital services. Having basic medical insurance coverage is required both by BCIT policy and by BC provincial law.

Most international students at BCIT will need to have two different kinds of basic insurance to cover themselves at different time periods. These are BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) and private medical insurance.

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the provincial public health care plan that provides basic medical insurance coverage to residents of BC. All residents of BC who stay over six months – including international students – are legally required to apply for MSP when they arrive and to maintain coverage throughout their period of residence in BC. Incoming Exchange and Study Abroad students staying for only one term are not eligible for MSP. It is important to note that new arrivals to BC have a waiting period before becoming eligible MSP coverage.

Private medical insurance (Guard.me)

Basic private medical insurance from a company such as Guard.me is necessary to cover international students temporarily when they are not covered by MSP, such as during the MSP coverage wait period. The process for purchasing or opting out of private medical insurance coverage varies depending on in which type of program you are studying.

Extended medical insurance

Extended medical insurance generally provides coverage towards additional services that basic medical insurance plans do not, such as vision, dental care, and prescription drugs. Each plan is different, so it is important to understand exactly what is and what is not covered.

BCIT student association health & dental plan

BCIT students studying in eligible full-time programs are automatically enrolled in the BCIT Student Association Health and Dental Plan and will have access to health services including dental, vision, and online counselling. Students in ISEP or part-time programs are not eligible.

Other types of extended medical insurance

Various types of extended medical insurance may also be provided by an employer, through a parent or spouse, or can be purchased independently through an insurance company such as BCAA.