In the Know: Health Insurance

UVic Global Community Newsletter: April 17, 2023

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 in Canada.

For example, you might want to go hiking in Goldstream Provincial Park. 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. However, you would not need to pay this amount if you have health insurance coverage.

In British Columbia (BC), there are two components to comprehensive health insurance:

  1. Primary health insurance
  2. Extended health insurance

What is 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).

The Student Wellness Centre , located in the Health and Wellness Building (HWB), provides primary medical care for UVic students. For other options, please see Resources for Physical health

The 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 plan upon course registration at UVic, and assessed the Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI) fee of $265 in their UVic student account.*

* Incoming exchange students do not need to pay tuition fees to UVic, but must pay the MTMI fee by May 31, 2023. The options available for paying tuition fees, listed on the UVic website, are also available for paying associated student fees, including the MTMI fee.

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

If you are staying in British Columbia for longer than 6 months, it is mandatory to enrol in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) when you arrive in BC.

For information on how to apply and the online enrolment application, please visit the How to apply webpage. 

BC MSP coverage does not start immediately for newcomers to BC. 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 any day in April your coverage will begin on July 1, but if you arrive in BC any day in May your coverage will begin on August 1.

If you have difficulty submitting the online form, contact the International Centre for Students 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 an invoice for your fees and instructions for how to pay.

The health fee for international students is $75 per month per student. Please refer to the BC Ministry of Health’s Questions and Answers: Health fee for international students document for more information.

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 plan is also mandatory for most international students in their first term at UVic, 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 website, click Opt Out and follow the instructions to submit the form. The opt-out deadline is May 22, 2023.

If your BC MSP coverage expires during your first term at UVic, please contact before the opt-out deadline for the opt out procedure and criteria.

As an international student in Canada, your BC MSP ends when your study permit expires. Therefore, it is very important that you start the process of extending your study permit at least 4 months before it expires to avoid a lapse in your BC MSP coverage.

If you miss the opt-out deadline, or have difficulty submitting the form, please contact International Centre for Students.

I am not going to be in Canada for the Summer Session (May - August 2023). Can I opt out of 

If you will be outside of Canada for the Summer Session (May  – August  2023), you will be eligible to opt out of, regardless of whether you are currently covered by a similar health plan. Visit the website, click Opt Out and follow the instructions.

The opt-out deadline is May 22, 2023.

If you submit the form before your opt-out deadline and your request is approved, the MTMI fee will be removed from your UVic student account.

If you miss your opt-out deadline, or have difficulty submitting the form, please contact the International Centre for Students (ICS).

I have a chronic condition and I already have alternative coverage that meets my needs. Can I opt out of

You may also be eligible to opt out of the plan if you have a chronic condition and proof of alternative coverage. To request to opt out due to a chronic condition, you must complete an appeal form and submit it along with supporting documentation to the International Centre for Students (ICS) at UVic on or before the opt-out deadline of May 22, 2023. If your appeal is approved, the MTMI fee will be removed from your account. For more information on this process, contact the ICS at

Can I opt out of after May 22, 2023?

After May 22, 2023, you may be eligible for a refund of the unused portion of your insurance if you have not made a claim and there is at least 1 month of coverage remaining. Your application for a partial reimbursement must be received by before the last month of the term (July 31 for summer session).

Please note, when you arrive to Canada, it is your responsibility to ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage that is valid.

What is 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 Therapeutics 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.

The Graduate Students' Society (GSS) provides extended health insurance for graduate students throughout their program of study at UVic.

If you start your program in Summer Session, your extended health will not be assessed in your student fees. UVSS health and dental plan does not allow students to opt in in the Summer Session. The GSS health and dental plan has an opt-in window that closes on May 22, 2023 solely for Extended Health (dental plan is not included).

In the Fall and Spring terms, undergraduate students will be automatically assessed. Undergraduate students who are members of the UVSS and are registered in at least 3 units of on-campus classes in September or January including co-op or distance students are automatically covered by the UVSS Enhanced Health & Dental Plan.

Graduate students in a minimum of 3.0 units will be automatically assessed Extended Health and Dental in September. The coverage is effective from September 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024.

Note: The coverage offered by these plans does not replace the need for primary health insurance. Without the 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.

I have opted out of my extended health insurance, but will be arriving to Canada in May and would like to opt in. Am I able to do this?

Undergraduate students are unable to opt in to the UVSS Extended Health and Dental plan for the summer session.

Graduate students are able to opt in to the GSS Extended Health plan by May 22, 2023 for coverage until August 31, 2023. However, the plan will not cover you for dental care. Contact the GSS Health and Dental Coordinator at if you wish to opt-in.

More information about health insurance is available on our website. If you have questions, please contact the International Centre for Students.

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