In the Know: Health Insurance

UVic Global Community Newsletter: May 6, 2019

In the Know: Advice for International Students 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 coverage, you could be denied treatment or pay thousands of dollars each day for medical 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 throughout your time in Canada, but unexpected events do happen sometimes.

For example, you might visit Mount Washington during reading break and decide you want to try snowshoeing. This is not considered a dangerous activity, but on the trail you could accidentally fall and break your wrist. 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 primary and extended health insurance provides you with comprehensive coverage and ensures that medical issues will not cause financial difficulty or compromise academic progress.

Reminder: Family members who are with you in Canada should also have comprehensive coverage. You can purchase coverage for them at an additional cost.

How do I get primary health insurance?

Primary health insurance covers the cost of required medical services provided by physicians, specialists, diagnostic facilities, laboratory facilities, and hospitals.

The type of primary health insurance you can get depends on how long you plan to stay in the province of 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, you will receive in the mail a Non-Photo BC Services Card with a personal health number (PHN) which will allow you to access required medical 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 the premium rate is $37.50 per month regardless of your income.

There is a waiting period before your BC MSP coverage begins. It consists of the balance of your month of arrival in BC plus two more months. For example, if you arrive in April your coverage will begin on July 1, but if you arrive in May your coverage will begin on August 1.

The guard.me@UVic plan covers required medical services to address new and unexpected illness or injury during the BC MSP waiting period.

Most new international students are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan upon registration at UVic, assessed the Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI) fee of $265 in their UVic student account, and sent an ID Card by email which allows access to required medical services.*

* Incoming exchange students do not need to pay tuition fees to UVic, but must pay the MTMI fee by May 31, 2019. The options available for paying tuition fees, listed on the UVic website, are also available for paying associated students fees, including the MTMI fee.

I will stay in BC for fewer than six months.

You are not eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), so the guard.me@UVic plan will cover required medical services to address new and unexpected illness or injury during your one term of study at UVic.

Most new international students are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan upon registration at UVic, assessed the Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI) fee of $265 in their UVic student account, and sent an ID Card by email which allows access to required medical services.*

* Incoming exchange students do not need to pay tuition fees to UVic, but must pay the MTMI fee by May 31, 2019. The options available for paying tuition fees, listed on the UVic website, are also available for paying associated students fees, including the MTMI fee.

I am already covered by primary health insurance.

All international students who intend to stay in the province of British Columbia (BC) for more than six months must enrol in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), regardless of any coverage they already have.

Enrolment in the guard.me@UVic plan is also mandatory unless you are covered by one of the following:

  • BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)
  • Canadian provincial or territorial public health plan
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau-sponsored plan
  • Libyan-North American Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • African Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange & Fellowship Program

If you are already covered by one of these plans, visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Opt Out and follow the instructions to submit the form.

  • If your program of study at UVic starts in May or June 2019, the opt out deadline is May 22, 2019. 
  • If your program of study at UVic starts in July or August 2019, the opt out deadline is July 22, 2019. 

If you miss the opt out deadline, or have difficulty submitting the form, please visit or contact the International Student Centre (ISC).

How do I get extended health insurance?

Extended health insurance covers a portion of the cost of medical services that are not already covered by primary health insurance. This includes vision care, dental care, travel benefits, and prescription drugs.

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 an appointment with a chiropractor, 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 health practitioners in Victoria. 

The University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) provides extended health insurance for undergraduate students throughout their program of study at UVic. For students starting their program of study in summer session (May-August), extended health insurance is not available until September.

The Graduate Students' Society (GSS) provides extended health insurance for graduate students throughout their program of study at UVic. For students starting their program of study in summer session (May-August), extended health insurance is available for you to opt in. The opt in deadline for extended health insurance is May 31. For more information, contact the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc@uvic.ca or 250-721-8816.

Note: The coverage offered by these plans does not replace the need for primary health insurance. Without the guard.me@UVic plan or the BC Medical Services Plan you may not be able to access all the benefits associated with your UVic extended health and dental plan.

Tip: More information about health insurance is available on our website. If you have questions, please visit or contact the International Student Centre.

Important Dates

May 6: Summer session begins.

May 12: Mother’s Day.

May 19: Last day for graduate students to register in a personal leave for summer session.

May 20: Victoria Day. This is a statutory holiday, so classes are cancelled and UVic services are closed.