Medical Insurance for International Students

Last updated: July 30, 2020

I am an international student and have questions regarding my medical insurance. Who should I contact?

Students and their dependent family members must have medical insurance for the entire duration of their stay in Canada. The Canadian health system provides a high standard of health care, but care is very expensive if you are not insured. SFU international students, recent graduates, dependent family members, and newly admitted students can contact an International Student Advisor should they have any questions about their primary or secondary medical insurance in Canada. For more information about medical insurance in Canada, please visit the SFU medical insurance website.

I have BC MSP and will be leaving Canada due to COVID-19. What will happen to my BC MSP coverage?

For absence less than 6 months:

You can maintain BC MSP coverage for up to 6 months of absence from BC. If your absence is less than 6 months, you have the option to keep or cancel MSP. If you decide to keep MSP, you will have to continue paying the monthly health fee however you will not have to reapply for MSP or be subject to the coverage wait period when you return to BC. 

If you cancel MSP, you can do so by calling BC MSP directly to provide them with the details of your departure and the intended date of return or submitting a written request by mail and documents of proof such as flight tickets with departure date from Canada, or a stamp in your passport showing that you have already left Canada, and including your personal details (such as your full name and personal health number).

For absence longer than 6 months:

You will need to contact BC MSP directly to inform them with the details of your departure and the intended date of return or submitting a written request by mail and documents of proof such as flight tickets with departure date from Canada, or a stamp in your passport showing that you have already left Canada, and including your personal details (such as your full name and personal health number).

If you cancel your BC MSP:

You will have to reapply for MSP when you return to BC and be subject to the coverage wait period before MSP coverage can be renewed. This means it is important for you to consider whether you will have adequate medical insurance coverage upon your return to Canada. You will need to purchase private medical insurance before you return to Canada to cover you during the three-month waiting period. Please contact us when you are making your travel plan to learn about your options.

To contact Health Insurance BC regarding your MSP coverage, please visit MSP website.

I have been accepted to SFU to start in the Fall 2020 term, due to COVID-19, I will be taking online courses from my home country. Do I still require to have medical insurance in Canada for the fall term?

The current policy is that you must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. As a new international student, you will be automatically enrolled in a 4-month primary medical insurance plan with guard.me@SFU for your first term of studies. 

If you already have a valid coverage through BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), 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. 

To opt out of guard.me@SFU, visit their website. Click the "Undergraduate Students" or "Graduate Students" category and follow the opt-out instructions. The opt-out deadlines can be viewed here.

My MSP is expiring with my study permit.  I applied to extend my study permit but given the processing times my application will not be processed before my current study permit and MSP expire.  What can I do to ensure I have medical insurance while I wait?

MSP has confirmed that individuals who are in British Columbia with an expired work or study permit can contact MSP directly to request a period of temporary MSP coverage. This temporary measure is effective until October 31, 2020. Individuals should contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage.  For more information please visit the MSP website.

I am currently covered by Guard.me@SFU plan (or another private medical insurance plan) and I have never applied for BC MSP. My study permit is expiring soon and I applied to extend my study permit but given the processing times my application will not be processed before my current Guard.me@SFU plan expires.  What can I do to ensure I have medical insurance while I wait?

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, MSP confirmed that the three-month MSP coverage wait period will be waived for eligible individuals effective March 1, 2020, onwards. This temporary measure is effective until July 31, 2020. If you are eligible you will be able to apply and get BC MSP coverage before your guard.me@SFU plan expires. Please visit the MSP website to apply.

If you are not eligible to apply for BC MSP, please contact us to learn more about your options.

How can I update MSP once I have my new study permit?

Once you have received your new study permit you can notify MSP by completing an online form and uploading a copy of your new study permit for MSP.  Please visit the MSP website for more information.

I have guard.me@SFU primary medical insurance.  Will I continue to be covered if I get sick?

If your policy is valid, you are covered for all new and emergent conditions and medically necessary treatment, including COVID-19.  You can confirm the dates of your coverage on your guard.me ID Card. If you are currently covered by guard.me@SFU plan, please note that your current coverage will expire on August 31, 2020. More information about guard.me@SFU including COVID-19 updates can be found on the guard.me@SFU website.

Note that all British Columbia residents (including study permit holders) are required to enroll with the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP), BC’s provincial primary medical insurance plan.  If you have not yet applied for MSP please visit the MSP website to apply.

If I get sick can I still see a doctor using my guard.me@SFU insurance or MSP?

If you are insured by guard.me@SFU and are sick you are able to access mobileDOCTOR by guard.me for consultation with a doctor from your home. You need to have your policy number as well as a list of your symptoms and how long you have had them to speak with a doctor. For more information visit the guard.me@SFU website.

If you are covered by MSP, you can access the COVID 19 consultation site for BC residents at Maple website. Be prepared with your MSP Card as well as a list of your symptoms and how long you have had them, and your travel history.

If you are feeling ill, please consult with the HealthLink BC website and the BC Centre for Disease Control website for instructions on care.

Where can I find information and updates about my secondary medical insurance?

If you are an undergraduate student enrolled in the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Health & Dental Plan please visit the Studentcare website for information about your policy. 

If you are a graduate student enrolled in the Graduate Student Society (GSS) Benefits Plan please visit the Studentcare website for information about your policy.