International & US Graduate Students
Note: In Canada, there are two types of medical insurance: primary and secondary. At SFU both Primary and Secondary Medical Insurance are required.
This page is regularly reviewed and was last updated on February 5, 2021.
Primary medical insurance covers services that require medical attention, such as visits to doctors, hospital stays and diagnostic medical testing. Primary medical insurance is legally required for all residents of British Columbia (including international students) and is provided through the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). An interim solution for the waiting period during the coverage gap is a short-term medical insurance plan called guard.me.
Staying in BC for 6 months or longer?
Under the Medicare Protection Act, enrolment with the Medical Services Plan (MSP) is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents.
If you are in BC and have not done so already, apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) right away.
If this is your first term at SFU and:
- you already have valid coverage through BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), or
- you are studying at SFU under a government sponsored scholarship program, or
- you are outside Canada,
If this is not your first term at SFU and you opted out of the guard.me@SFU plan, because you were not in Canada:
When you travel to Canada, please contact International Services for Students to learn about medical insurance options to cover your BC MSP waiting period.
Moving to BC from another province?
If you are currently covered by another provincial medical insurance plan, you may be able to opt out of the guard.me@SFU plan. Ensure you contact your Provincial or Territorial health plan provider to inquire about coverage while in British Columbia (BC). Please note that SFU and guard.me will not review your home insurance plan.
If you are not able to remain on your home province or territory plan, you cannot opt out from guard.me@sfu and must apply for the BC's Medical Services Plan after your arrival in BC.
i Primary Medical Insurance Flowchart:
What is guard.me@SFU?
Guard.me@SFU is a short term primary medical insurance coverage for your first term at SFU. The goal of guard.me@SFU is to help you transition while you are waiting for your BC MSP. If you plan to live in BC for more than 6 months, under the Medicare Protection Act, you must enrol with the mandatory BC Medical Services Plan.
How do I get the policy/ certificate number?
You will receive an email from guard.me@SFU regarding the policy/ certificate number. The policy information will be in an attachment. Make sure to keep this for future reference as you will need it for direct billing or to submit a claim. If you have not received an email from guard.me@SFU, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How and when can I opt out of guard.me@SFU?
You are only enrolled in guard.me@SFU plan for your first term at SFU. If you already have valid coverage through BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) or another Canadian provincial or territorial public health coverage, are studying at SFU under a government sponsored scholarship program, or you are outside of Canada you may be able to opt out of the guard.me@SFU Plan.
If you are opting out with another Canadian provincial or territorial public health coverage,ensure you contact your Provincial or Territorial health plan provider to inquire about coverage while in British Columbia (BC). Please note that SFU and guard.me will not review your home insurance plan.
Note: changes may not be reflected right away.
- Letter that was issued with the MSP card showing the effective date of your MSP coverage: click here to see a sample letter
- Current MSP bill showing effective coverage
- Health Insurance BC confirmation of MSP enrolment letter
Please note the following:
- Your BC MSP card must be valid the day you opt-out from the guard.me plan. Expired BC MSP card will not be accepted as a proof of coverage
- A Collections Notice cannot be used to opt-out
- The name and date of birth on your BC MSP card must match SFU records.
- If your MSP card is issued more than 3 months prior to the start of the semester, no additional document is required. You only need to submit a photo of your MSP card to opt out.
How can I make claims?
When visiting any of the SFU Health Clinics, print out a copy of the email attachment from guard.me@SFU containing your coverage certificate. They will collect a copy for each visit and will directly bill guard.me@SFU on your behalf. No additional claim is required.
You can search Guard.me preferred clinics near your location here. These clinics will allow direct billing.
For clinics that do not allow direct billing, you will need to pay upfront for the visit. Keep copies of all your payment receipts. To submit a claim, please visit guard.me@SFU to create an online account and upload copies of your receipts.
I received my BC Services Card (MSP card) before the end of my first term. May I apply for a partial refund of the 4 month policy?
You may be eligible for a refund of the unused portion of your insurance if you have not made a claim and there is more than 1 month of coverage remaining when you apply through guard.me@SFU. Your application for a partial reimbursement must be received by guard.me@SFU before the last month of the term (that is, before April 1, August 1 and December 1). If approved, your partial refund will be applied to your SFU account.
Cost: $75 per month*
If you have any dependent (e.g. spouse, common-law partner, and/or children) on the same BC MSP account, this fee will apply for each study permit holder.
Enrolment: Need to apply
More Info: BC MSP website
*prices are subject to change without notice
What is the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)?
Students staying in BC for 6 months or longer are required to enrol in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan under the Medicare Protection Act. There is a wait period of 2-3 months for new residents. In order to be covered during the wait period you may purchase a private medical insurance plan or please contact International Services for Students to learn about medical insurance options.
If you are a new international student at SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in guard.me@sfu plan for your first term while you wait for your BC MSP.
BC MSP provides primary medical coverage such as:
- services provided by a doctor
- X-rays, lab tests (as required by a doctor)
- emergency dental and oral surgery in hospital
How and when can I apply for MSP?
To apply for BC MSP, complete the MSP Application online at this website.
You may also complete the MSP Application Enrolment form by mail and mail it directly to BC MSP.
If you are eligible, you can apply as soon as you arrive in BC. Please note there is a wait period of 2-3 months for new residents before your coverage begins. If you are a new international student at SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in guard.me@sfu plan for your first term while you wait for your BC MSP.
If you are a returning student travelling back to BC, in order to be covered during the wait period you may purchase a private medical insurance plan. Please contact International Services for Students about temporary medical insurance options to cover the MSP waiting period.
I have been living in BC for a while but never applied for BC MSP. What can I do?
If you are currently in BC, do apply for BC MSP right away. Primary medical insurance is legally required for all residents of British Columbia (including international students) and is provided through the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).
Effective January 1, 2020, the BC MSP premium has been eliminated; however, each study permit holder is required to pay a health fee of $75 per month. Note that when your MSP application is processed, your coverage and fees will be backdated to the date you became eligible for BC MSP (however, backdating will not extend prior to September 1, 2019).
I have never applied for BC MSP. My study permit is expiring soon. What can I do to ensure I have medical insurance while I wait?
If you are a full-time SFU student, you can purchase an interim coverage through guard.me while you wait for your study permit. The guard.me plan is available at $2.30 per person per day. Please visit their website.
Note that all British Columbia residents (including study permit holders) are required to enrol with the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP), BC’s provincial primary medical insurance plan. Once you have received your new study permit, apply for MSP right away. Please visit the MSP website to apply.
I am already enrolled in BC MSP. I have recently received my new study permit. How can I update my MSP?
How does BC MSP work?
Once enrolled, BC MSP will mail you a BC Services Card along with an invoice to pay. Payments may be made monthly or in advance. Payments are made directly to BC MSP, not through SFU.
When visiting a health clinic or hospital, you will be asked to show your BC Services Card as proof of enrolment. You will not be required to pay for the visit, they will bill BC MSP directly.
Secondary medical insurance generally covers vision care, prescription drugs, dental and extended health care. Eligible SFU students receive secondary medical insurance through the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan. If you are working as a TA, you may receive coverage through another provider as part of your employment contract.
Do you already have an equivalent secondary medical insurance plan? OPT OUT of the GSS Health and Dental Plan.
Are you an international student living outside of Canada? Note that plan benefits are only accessible within Canada. Review your options and details below.
Cost: $465.00/ academic year*
Enrolment: Automatic (except if entering in summer term). May-start students can self-enrol for their first semester at SFU during the Change-of-Coverage Period.
More Info: GSS Health and Dental Plan website
*prices are subject to change without notice
What is the GSS Health and Dental Plan?
The Graduate Student Society (GSS) health and dental plan is in place to complement primary medical coverage (ie. BC MSP). Services not included by primary coverage (ie. vision and dental care) are included in the GSS plan.
Eligible students are automatically covered by and billed for applicable portions of the student plan. Note that plan benefits are only accessible within Canada.
How and when can I opt out of the GSS Health and Dental Plan?
You may opt out of the GSS extended health plan if you have existing secondary coverage in BC. To opt out, you will be required to upload proof of coverage on the GSS Health and Dental website during the Change-of-Coverage Period. This will be during the first two weeks of each term.
Due to the impact of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, a special Change-of-Coverage Period will be available between July 5-19, 2021 for international students who were unable to come to Canada during the 2020-21 academic year. For more information read the FAQ infosheet.
Please visit their website for more information.
How can I make claims?
You can submit health and dental claim forms directly to the insurance company. You may also file claims online through the ihaveaplan mobile app. For more information, and to download the app, click here.
How can I enrol my dependents?
Your plan gives you the option to enrol your family (spouse and/or dependent children) by completing an enrolment process and by paying an additional fee, over and above your individual fee as a Plan member during the Change-of-Coverage Period. Common law couples are eligible.
The Change-of-Coverage Period is the period at the beginning of the semester when you can make changes to your plan, opt out, or enrol your spouse and/or dependent children in the Plan.
Students who are eligible to enrol themselves and who wish to cover their spouse and/or dependent children have to pay the appropriate couple or family fee in addition to their own enrolment fee.
If you have an active TSSU appointment, you may also choose to opt into a private extended health plan (Pacific Blue Cross). For more information, visit the International Teaching Assistants page.