Tia's Advice: Health Insurance

UVic Global Community Newsletter: September 11, 2017

Tia's Advice is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seeking, incoming exchange and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Why is health insurance so important?

The cost of health care in Canada is very high for those who do not have health insurance.

Without proper coverage, you could be denied treatment or pay thousands of dollars each day for medically required services. As a result, all UVic students are required to have comprehensive coverage for the entire duration of their studies.

Most students do not expect to need emergency medical attention, and I certainly hope you stay healthy and happy throughout your time in Canada, but the truth is that unexpected events do happen sometimes.

For example, you might decide to join one of Vikes Recreation's intramural teams. This is not considered a dangerous activity, but you could accidentally collide with another player and break your arm. If this happened, you would need to visit the hospital. Without comprehensive coverage, the treatment from start to finish would probably cost you more than $3,000.

What is comprehensive coverage?

Having both basic and extended health insurance provides you with comprehensive coverage and ensures that medical issues will not cause financial difficulties or compromise your academic progress.

Family members who are with you in Canada should also obtain comprehensive coverage. You can add family members to your basic and extended health insurance plans for an additional cost.

How do I get basic health insurance?

Basic health insurance covers the cost of medically required services provided by physicians, specialists, diagnostic x-ray facilities, laboratory facilities and hospitals.

The type of basic health insurance you can get depends on how long you plan to stay in British Columbia (BC).

I will stay in BC for more than six months.

You must enrol in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) when you arrive in BC.

The application for enrolment is available online.

If you have difficulty submitting the online form, visit or contact the International Student Centre (ISC) or try one of the other application options.

After you apply, there will be a waiting period before your coverage begins. The waiting period consists of the balance of your month of arrival in BC plus two more months. For example, if you arrive in BC in August your coverage will begin on November 1, but if you arrive in BC in September your coverage will begin on December 1.

You will receive in the mail a Non-Photo BC Services Card with a personal health number (PHN) which will allow you to access medically required services.

You will also receive in the mail, in a separate envelope, an invoice for your first monthly premium and instructions for how to pay. Please note that international students are not eligible for premium assistance, so your premium rate will not be reduced based on your income.

During the BC MSP waiting period you must have comparable coverage through an alternate health insurance provider. AON is a company UVic has selected to provide temporary emergency health insurance for international students. If you do not already have coverage for the waiting period, we recommend purchasing termporary emergency health insurance as soon as possible.

I will stay in BC for fewer than six months.

You are not eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

However, you must have comparable coverage through an alternate health insurance provider for the entire duration of your studies at UVic. AON is a company UVic has selected to provide temporary emergency health insurance for international students. If you do not already have coverage for the duration of your studies at UVic, we recommend purchasing temporary emergency health insurance as soon as possible.

I am already covered by BC MSP.

Check the expiry date on your CareCard or BC Services Card.

If necessary, follow these instructions to extend your BC MSP coverage.

If your card has not yet expired, or has been expired for less than one month, mail a copy of it, a copy of your new Canadian immigration document or proof that you have applied for a new Canadian immigration document and a brief letter that includes your full name, current mailing address, date of birth and a request for extension of coverage to the following address:

Health Insurance BC - Medical Services Plan, PO Box 9035 STN PROV GOVT, Victoria, BC, V8W 9E3

Consider using a trackable mailing service, such as Canada Post Xpresspost, to ensure your documents arrive safely.

If your card has already been expired for more than one month, contact Health Insurance BC for instructions.

If there will be a gap in your BC MSP coverage, you should arrange for comparable coverage through an alternate health insurance provider. AON is a company UVic has selected to provide temporary emergency health insurance for international students.

If your BC MSP coverage is still valid but your mailing address has changed, contact Health Insurance BC and provide your new mailing address, or submit an address change form online.

How do I get extended health insurance?

Extended health insurance covers a portion of the cost of vision care, prescription drugs and services provided by medical practitioners that are not already covered with basic health insurance.

Some examples of extended health insurance benefits:

  • If a doctor writes you a prescription for medicine and you buy it at Heart Pharmacy, a portion of the cost may be covered.
  • If you visit the Campus Dental Centre to have your teeth cleaned, a portion of the cost may be covered.
  • If you visit Victory Health & Wellness for a massage, a portion of the cost may be covered.

Please note that the businesses mentioned above are conveniently located on the UVic campus, but there are many other pharmacies, dentists and medical practitioners in Victoria.

The University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) provides extended health and dental insurance for undergraduate students.

The Graduate Students' Society (GSS) provides extended health and dental insurance for graduate students.

Most UVic students are automatically enrolled for extended health and dental insurance.*

The coverage offered by these plans does not replace basic health insurance. Without basic health insurance you will not be able to claim the benefits associated with your extended health and dental insurance.

* Incoming exchange students are not automatically enrolled for extended health and dental insurance but may be eligible to opt in during the change of coverage period if they choose to purchase a UVSS or GSS membership package. We strongly recommend this option for students who do not already have extended health and dental insurance.

I am already covered by extended health insurance.

You may be able to combine your existing plan with the UVic plan or opt out of one plan.

Undergraduate students should visit the StudentCare office in the Student Union Building before September 22, 2017 to discuss options.

Graduate students should contact the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc@uvic.ca or 250-721-8816 before September 30, 2017 to discuss options.

If you have questions about any of these topics, please visit or contact the International Student Centre (ISC).

Important Dates

September 13 - 14: Clubs and Course Union Days in the Student Union Building.

September 14: Last day for course changes in Faculty of Law.

September 19: Last day for 100% reduction of tuition fees if you drop first term or full year courses. Students must pay 50% of tuition fees for courses dropped after this date. DO NOT assume the instructor will drop you from a course if you do not attend classes. You are responsible for your own registration.*

September 22: Last day for adding courses that begin in first term. Now that classes have started, please be sure to speak with the instructor BEFORE adding a first term course.

September 22: Change of coverage deadline for the UVSS Health and Dental Plan.**

September 26: International Opportunities Fair.

September 30: Change of coverage deadline for the GSS Health and Dental Plan.**

September 30: Last day for paying first term tuition fees without penalty.*

* Incoming exchange students do not pay tuition fees to UVic.

** Incoming exchange students are not automatically enrolled for the UVSS or GSS Health and Dental Plans but may be eligible to opt in during the change of coverage period if they choose to purchase a UVSS or GSS membership package. We strongly recommend this option for students who do not already have extended health and dental insurance.

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