Important Changes to the guard.me@SFU Medical Insurance Plan

March 03, 2020

1. Changes to the guard.me@SFU medical insurance effective Summer 2020.

Starting in the Summer 2020 term, students will no longer be automatically re-enrolled in guard.me@SFU during their subsequent terms at SFU. All new international students will be automatically enrolled in the guard.me@SFU plan only in their first term at SFU.

2. How do those changes impact me? 

Your guard.me@SFU coverage for Spring 2020 will expire on 30 April, 2020. SFU will not re-enroll you in the guard.me@SFU plan in any subsequent terms (unless you return to SFU for a second credential or you re-enroll at SFU after being away for three or more terms).

If you opted out of guard.me@SFU with valid BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage, no further action is required; it is your responsibility to ensure your coverage with MSP is valid throughout your stay in Canada.

If your family members are currently covered under the guard.me@SFU plan as your dependents, they will not be eligible to extend their coverage past April 30. You should apply to enroll your family members in BC MSP if they are eligible.

If your family members are not currently eligible for MSP, please ensure they have valid private medical insurance during their stay in Canada or until their MSP coverage takes effect (if they become eligible to apply for MSP later). Family members who are not eligible for MSP may purchase the guard.me CANADA plan from guard.me, or may instead choose an alternate provider. For more information about policy details and how to purchase the guard.me CANADA plan, please contact guard.me directly.

3. Should I apply for the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)? 

You must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. Without adequate coverage, you could pay thousands of dollars per day for a hospital stay or even be refused certain services.

As a resident of British Columbia who is residing in BC for six months or longer, it is mandatory for you to enroll yourself and your family members in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). 

MSP covers medically required services, such as visits to doctors, hospital stays, and diagnostic testing. Furthermore, you must have valid primary medical health coverage (e.g. BC MSP) in order to use the secondary benefit plan offered through SFU.

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 MSP (however, backdating will not extend prior to September 1, 2019).

4. How can I apply for BC MSP? 

To enroll in BC MSP, you may complete an online application or apply by paper to BC MSP. You will be required to provide a copy of your current study permit which must be valid for at least six months. Please ensure that your mailing address is accurate and up to date with MSP, as your MSP card and monthly invoices will be sent to you by mail.

There may be a waiting period of 2-3 months before your MSP coverage begins. During this waiting period, please ensure that you have valid private medical insurance.

If you have not applied for BC MSP yet, click here for more information on how to apply.

  • Click here to access the online application for BC MSP.

If you are a member of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at SFU, you and your eligible dependents may apply to enroll in SFU’s group MSP coverage.  Please note that enrollment in SFU’s group plan is not automatic; you must apply directly to  Human Resources to enroll.

  • Click here for more information on how to apply for group MSP enrollment as a TSSU member
  • Click here to review the TSSU Benefit Memo outlining benefits applicable to TSSU members

5. My study permit and MSP already expired and I am under implied status. How can I keep myself insured? 

In most cases, your MSP coverage is issued to match the expiry date of your current immigration document (e.g. your study permit). Thus, if you are currently covered under MSP but have recently renewed your study permit, you must extend your coverage with MSP by submitting a copy of your renewed study permit via the online MSP Account Change Request form . Please note that your study permit must be valid for at least six months in order to extend your MSP.

  • Click here to access the MSP online Account Change Request Form to extend your MSP coverage.

If your MSP is already expired and you are under implied status in Canada waiting for your study permit to be renewed, your MSP coverage will not be extended during implied status. When you receive your renewed study permit, you must submit a copy of it to MSP in order to activate your coverage again. Depending on the length of the gap in your MSP coverage, you may have to re-apply for MSP when you obtain your renewed study permit and you may be subject to another waiting period of approximately 2-3 months.

  • Click here for more information about implied status as defined by IRPA.

If your MSP coverage has expired, you should contact BC MSP directly to enquire if your coverage can be backdated upon renewal. If there will be a gap in your coverage, it is strongly recommended that you obtain short-term private medical insurance to cover you until your MSP is reinstated. As a student at SFU, you may be eligible to purchase interim coverage under the guard.me@SFU plan to fill any gaps (minimum purchase 60 days).

  • Click here for BC MSP contact information.
  • Click here to purchase interim coverage under guard.me@SFU.

6. I plan to take the Summer term off and travel back home. Will my MSP coverage still be valid during that period? 

If you will be absent from BC temporarily for less than 6 months, you are still considered a BC resident and your coverage with MSP should still remain valid. You will also continue to be billed for MSP during your temporary absence from BC.

If you will be staying outside BC for six months or more (e.g. working in another province on a Co-op placement for two terms or going on an exchange abroad), you should inform BC MSP about your travel plans and confirm if you are eligible to maintain continued coverage with MSP. If you need to re-apply for MSP upon your return to BC, you will be required to go through a waiting period before the coverage can be renewed. As a student at SFU, you may be eligible to purchase interim coverage under the guard.me@SFU plan to cover any new waiting period imposed by MSP (minimum purchase 60 days).

  • Click here for more information about maintaining MSP coverage while travelling.
  • Click here to purchase interim coverage under guard.me@SFU.

7. Spring 2020 is my final term and I am currently covered under guard.me@SFU. What should I do? 

If you are currently covered under the guard.me@SFU plan and this is your final term, your coverage will end on 30 April 2020. If you have not applied for BC MSP yet, you should do so as soon as possible.

You will receive an email in late March from the International Services for Students (ISS) office with detailed information about steps you should take in preparation for your graduation, including applying for a post-graduation work permit and medical insurance after completion of your studies.

Highlights of the upcoming changes to the guard.me@SFU plan:

  • Spring 2020 is the last term you will be automatically enrolled by SFU in the guard.me@SFU plan.
  • Starting in the Summer 2020 term, you will no longer be automatically re-enrolled in guard.me@SFU upon course enrollment in your subsequent terms at SFU.
  • If you have not applied for BC MSP yet, you should apply as soon as possible if you are eligible.
  • Review our online resources on how to apply for MSP.
  • If you have valid coverage with MSP but have not opted out from guard.me@SFU, you may still apply for a partial refund, if eligible, before the opt-out period deadline of March 30.
  • TSSU members should contact Human Resources directly for assistance to enroll in SFU’s group MSP plan.
  • If you have recently renewed your study permit, make sure to update your MSP account and extend your coverage via the online MSP Account Change Form.
  • If there is a gap in your MSP coverage or you are not eligible to apply for MSP now, you should obtain private medical insurance coverage during the interim (e.g. interim coverage under guard.me@SFU).

Should you have any questions about the upcoming changes to your guard.me@SFU coverage, please contact an International Student Advisor for assistance. You may connect with us here .