MEDICAL INSURANCE FAQ ON COVID-19 FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Last updated: May 6, 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?

You can maintain BC MSP coverage for up to 6 months of absence from BC. You have the option to keep or cancel MSP. If you decide to keep MSP, you will have to continue paying the monthly health coverage 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 submitting a written request 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. You will have to reapply for MSP when you return to BC and will be required to fulfill a three-month coverage wait period before MSP coverage can be renewed. This means that you will need to purchase private health insurance before you return to Canada to cover you during the three-month waiting period. Please note that many private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 related expenses for new applicants hence it would be important for you to consider whether you will have adequate coverage upon your return to Canada.

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

I have been accepted to SFU to start in the Summer 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 summer 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 periods for guard.me@SFU are the following:

  • Summer 2020 term: First day of classes until June 15
  • Fall term: First day of classes until September 30
  • Spring term: First day of classes until January 30

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. 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 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?

You can apply for BC MSP. 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. 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 and you are currently covered by guard.me@SFU, you can apply for an extension. Please note that if you are purchasing an extension of guard.me coverage the policy under the extended insurance period will be different than your guard.me@SFU policy. As such, please be sure to review the policy information to ensure it is sufficient for your needs. To apply for an extension, please visit the guard.me@SFU website. It is required to purchase coverage until August 31, 2020. Once purchased, your guard.me policy is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

If you are not eligible to apply for BC MSP and you are currently covered by another private insurance plan which is expiring, you can purchase guard.me Canada plan. It is required to purchase coverage until August 31, 2020. Once purchased, your guard.me policy is non-refundable and non-transferrable. To purchase coverage, please visit guard.me@SFU website.

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 health 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 Apr 30, 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 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.