Medical Services Plan

The Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the BC provincial government’s medical insurance plan and is administered by Health Insurance BC. All eligible BC residents and their dependents must enrol in MSP, which pays for the medically required services of physicians and surgeons, hospital services, as well as dental and oral surgery when it is medically required to be performed in a hospital.

If you want to obtain your MSP coverage through UBC, you need to meet eligibility requirements for UBC and MSP in order to enrol in the plan. Your spouse and your children may be eligible to receive coverage if they meet the UBC’s definition of dependent and MSP’s eligibility requirements.

Depending on your employee group, you may be eligible to enrol at no cost to you, or you may be required to pay a partial or full cost of your monthly MSP premiums through payroll deduction. Visit Eligibility & Costs to determine your cost (if any).

By enrolling in UBC’s Extended Health Plan, you are also covered for medical services and expenses that are not covered by MSP, such as prescription drugs, vision care and more.

How do I enrol in MSP?

If you are a resident of British Columbia, you must enrol in MSP. By law, MSP is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents. If you are coming to UBC from outside of BC or Canada, see the section below.

When you initially enrol for your UBC payroll, benefits and pension, you can also enrol for MSP through UBC if you meet eligibility requirements for both UBC and MSP.

Enrolment in the MSP through UBC is optional because you may already be enrolled in MSP through your spouse’s or partner’s benefit plan or directly with Health Insurance BC (the administrator of MSP).

When deciding whether to enrol for MSP through UBC, review Eligibility & Costs to determine the cost to you, if any. If there is a financial advantage for you to enrol in MSP through UBC, please complete the UBC MSP enrolment form and make sure you cancel your prior coverage so you are not enrolled under two MSP plans.

You do not need to enrol in MSP through UBC to take part in the other UBC health benefits available to you, such as Extended Health and Dental.

If you have been approved for premium assistance, do not enrol for MSP through UBC. See Premium Assistance below for more information.

Proof of coverage

Your BC Services Card (or BC Care Card until February 2018) is proof of your MSP enrolment. Your BC Services Card contains your 9 digit personal health number.

If you are new to BC and Canada, once you are enrolled for MSP you will receive a notice that explains how you and your family members can get your BC Services Card (with photo).

If you have temporary immigration status, you will receive a BC Services Card (non-photo) in the mail.

Present your BC Services Card when obtaining physician and hospital services.

What are the MSP premiums?

MSP charges monthly premiums based on the number of adults covered (there is no cost for eligible dependent children). When the provincial government increases its MSP premiums, UBC Benefits will notify all staff and faculty members enrolled in MSP through UBC of the change in rates.

Depending on your UBC employee group, UBC may fully or partially pay your MSP premiums if you are enrolled in MSP through UBC.

MSP premiums fully paid by UBC

  • BCGEU Childcare
  • BCGEU Okanagan
  • CUPE 116
  • CUPE 2950
  • Executive Administrative
  • IUOE 882

MSP premiums partly paid by UBC

  • Administrative Executive
  • Excluded Management and Professional and Service Unit Directors
  • CUPE Local 2278 (English Language Instructors)

MSP premiums fully paid by employee

  • Faculty & Academic Executive
  • Farm Workers
  • Management and Professional (with the exception of Excluded Management and Professional and Service Unit Directors)
  • Non-Union Technicians and Research Assistants
  • Postdoctoral Fellows (Employees)
  • Postdoctoral Fellows (Award Recipients)

When does my MSP coverage through UBC begin and end?

See Benefit Coverage Start and End Dates for details on when your MSP coverage begins and ends.

When your MSP coverage ends, you must enrol directly with MSP if you are not covered under a spouse’s plan. See the Medical Services Plan website for instructions.

Coming to UBC from outside of BC or Canada

If you are coming to UBC from outside of BC (and within Canada) or outside Canada, you and your eligible dependents must complete a waiting period for MSP. The waiting period consists of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months. Generally, the date residence is established is the date of arrival in BC, however this is determined by the Ministry of Health based on a number of factors, including the type of immigration status held. For more information, visit the Health Insurance BC website.

If you are coming to BC from another Canadian province or territory, you should maintain your coverage with your former provincial medical plan during this MSP waiting period. This will ensure you are covered for any medically necessary physician and hospital services by your former province as you wait for your MSP coverage to start.

If you are coming to BC from outside of Canada, you should arrange for private coverage during the MSP waiting period. Faculty and staff employed or appointed by the university from outside Canada can purchase private coverage during the waiting period through the David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) or Sun Life. Learn more about private coverage.

Work permit renewals and MSP coverage

If you are working in British Columbia under a work permit and you are enrolled in MSP, your medical coverage will end when your work permit expires.

To arrange for your MSP coverage through UBC to continue after your work permit expires:

  • Provide proof of Implied Status to your UBC Vancouver Payroll Representative or UBC Okanagan Payroll Representative at least one month in advance of the work permit expiry date. If your dependent spouse or child is in British Columbia under a work or study permit and enrolled under your MSP through UBC, provide a copy of their Implied Status to your Payroll Benefits Representative so that their MSP will also be extended (see below for contact details).
  • After receiving proof or your Implied Status, your MSP coverage will be extended for three months beyond the original cancellation date based on the understanding that a work permit will be issued to you.
  • Once you receive your new work permit, you must provide it to your Department Administrator who will then forward it to Faculty Relations/HR and Payroll so that MSP coverage can be extended beyond the initial three months.

If you have any questions about your MSP reinstatement or extension, please contact your Payroll Benefits Representative.

If you are enrolled for MSP through Health Insurance BC, please contact MSP directly to request an extension to coverage.

If you do not provide proof of Implied Status, your MSP coverage will end on the work permit expiry date. Once you receive your new work permit, you will need to contact your Payroll Benefits Representative to arrange for reinstatement. Please note that it may take as long as 90 days for MSP to process the reinstatement of benefits. MSP coverage will normally not be active during this time and you will need to personally pay for any medical expenses incurred while waiting for MSP to update your status. Once the MSP benefit is reinstated, you will be reimbursed for these expenses on your reinstatement date.

What do I do if I’m eligible for premium assistance?

The provincial government offers a MSP Premium Assistance Program for lower annual income earners. For information, visit the Medical Services Plan of BC website.

UBC does not administer MSP Premium Assistance, so if you are approved for full premium assistance (either regular or temporary) do not enrol for MSP through UBC. If you are currently enrolled for MSP through UBC, cancel your UBC enrolment as Health Insurance BC will set you up on an individual MSP account. To cancel, complete the UBC MSP group cancellation form and send it to Financial Operations – Payroll.

If you are approved for partial premium assistance (either regular or temporary), you must decide whether it is advantageous for you to enrol for MSP through UBC or directly with Health Insurance BC.

If the amount you are required to pay under the partial premium assistance program is less than the amount indicated under the “you pay” column for the MSP premium rate (as outlined in your employee group’s Eligibility & Costs section), do not enrol for MSP through UBC. If you are currently enrolled for MSP through UBC, cancel your UBC enrolment as Health Insurance BC will set you up on an individual MSP account. To cancel, complete the UBC MSP group cancellation form and send it to UBC Payroll.

If the amount MSP determines you should pay under the partial premium assistance program is more than the amount indicated under the “you pay” column for the MSP premium rate (as outlined in your employment group’s Eligibility & Costs section), you should enrol for MSP through UBC (or maintain your current enrolment) and let Health Insurance BC know that you will enrol in your employer’s MSP group plan instead of its partial premium assistance program. To enrol in UBC’s MSP, complete the UBC MSP enrolment form and send it to UBC Payroll.

If your circumstances change and you are no longer eligible for MSP Premium Assistance, you can enrol in MSP through UBC.

Temporary absences from BC

The BC Medical Services Plan requires that individuals be physically present in BC for at least six months of the calendar year to maintain their coverage under the plan.

However, you can still be covered by MSP if you are absent from BC for:

  • a total absence of seven months per calendar year for vacation purposes under certain conditions; or
  • temporary extended absences of up to 24 months once in a 60-month period for work or vacation.

It is up to you to seek approval for coverage from the BC Medical Services Plan if you are going to be absent from BC for more than six months of a calendar year. Learn more about temporary absences from BC.