Eligibility and Enrolment

All residents of B.C. must enrol with MSP

Under the Medicare Protection Act, enrolment with MSP is mandatory for all eligible residents.

»  Who is Eligible?
»  How to Enrol with MSP
»  When does Coverage Begin?
»  Coverage During the Wait Period
»  Changes that Affect Your Coverage
»  Adding and Removing Dependents
»  Absence from B.C.
»  Cancelling Your Coverage
»  Eligible First Nations Residents of B.C.

Who is Eligible?

To qualify for MSP coverage, an individual must be a resident of British Columbia. A resident is a person who:

  • is a citizen of Canada or is lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence,
  • makes his or her home in B.C., and
  • is physically present in B.C. for
    • at least six months in a calendar year, or
    • a shorter prescribed period*,

and includes a person who is deemed under the regulations to be a resident but does not include a tourist or visitor to British Columbia.

*Note: Effective January 1, 2013, eligible B.C. residents (citizens of Canada or persons who are lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence) who are outside B.C. for vacation purposes only, are allowed a total absence of up to seven months in a calendar year.

Certain other individuals, such as some holders of study and/or work permits, or working permits on working holiday programs — which are issued under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and are valid for a period of six or more months — may be deemed residents. Tourists or visitors to B.C. do not qualify.

A spouse or a child of an eligible B.C. resident may also be deemed a resident provided that an application for permanent residence status has been accepted for processing by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), and the application remains active.  For more information, see Covering a Spouse or Child who is an Applicant for Permanent Resident Status in Canada (PDF 274K).

Dependent - includes a spouse and children who are deemed to be a resident.

Spouse - a resident who is either married to or is living and cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship with the applicant, and may be of the same gender as the applicant. (Note: in the case of divorce, the former spouse is no longer eligible for coverage as a dependent and must apply for separate coverage.)

Child - a resident who is the legal ward or child of the applicant, is supported by the applicant, is neither married nor living and cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship, and is either age 18 or younger or age 19 to 24 and attending school or university full-time.

If you are uncertain about your eligibility or the eligibility of your dependent(s), contact MSP for assistance.

How to Enrol with MSP

If you are applying for a self-administered MSP account, complete an Application for Enrolment form.
If MSP coverage is available through your employer, union or pension plan, contact that office for information about group applications. Any existing self-administered account will be cancelled by MSP when your group application is processed.

If your employer, union or pension plan stops providing coverage under a group account, a self-administered account will automatically be set up for you and you will be billed directly for premiums from that date.

Persons who have or may be eligible for MSP benefits through the First Nations Health Authority (Canadian status aboriginals) or the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation should contact those agencies.
It may be necessary to visit an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office (DLO) to complete enrolment in MSP. If this is the case, written notice with next steps will be mailed to you.

When does Coverage Begin?

New residents or persons re-establishing residence in B.C. are eligible for coverage after completing a wait period that normally consists of the balance of the month of arrival plus two months. For example, if an eligible person arrives during the month of July, coverage is available October 1. If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the wait period, eligibility for coverage may be affected.

You should apply for MSP coverage immediately after arriving in B.C., rather than at the end of the wait period, to allow time for your application to be processed.

The date residency is considered to have been established is determined by the Ministry of Health, based on a number of factors, including the type of immigration status held. For some persons the wait period doesn’t start when they arrive in the province - it starts later. For example, a person who arrives as a tourist or visitor may later receive a change in immigration status in Canada that qualifies the person for MSP coverage. See Who is Eligible? above.

When a family moves to B.C. from another part of Canada and the applicant and spouse arrive separately, the wait period for family coverage begins on the later date of arrival. If, however, a spouse will reside in B.C. for 12 or more months before the rest of the family moves here, that spouse needs to apply for MSP coverage before the end of the 12 month period (coverage provided by the former home province cannot exceed 12 months). Once they arrive in B.C., the other family members can be added to the account - see Adding and Removing Dependents below. The rest of the family remains eligible for coverage in the other province for the balance of the month of departure plus two months, and will be required to complete the wait period once arriving in British Columbia.

Coverage During the Wait Period

New residents from other parts of Canada should maintain coverage with their former medical plan during the wait period. New or returning residents arriving from outside Canada should contact a private insurance company for coverage during this period.

Changes that Affect Your Coverage

Address Change

You should report an address change to MSP immediately - if possible, use one of MSP's online Address Change Forms. (Also see Permanent Move from B.C.)

If you have a driver’s licence, you may also want to update your driver’s licence by visiting addresschange.gov.bc.ca.

Name and Birth Date

You are required to report a change of name within 10 days. If a replacement is required because the name or birth date on a BC Services Card or CareCard needs to be changed, call Health Insurance BC toll free first.

  • If you are covered under a group plan administered by your employer, union or pension office you need to complete a Group Change Request.
  • If you are covered under a self-administered account, you need to complete an MSP Account Change.

Gender

To update the gender on your BC Services Card for reasons other than an administrative error, please visit BC Services Card for information.

In the case of administrative error, please contact Health Insurance BC toll free first.

There is no fee to obtain or replace a BC Services Card. However, if you’re combining your BC Services Card with your driver’s licence, fees that apply to the regular driver’s licence renewal process still apply.

Marriage

When you marry (or begin living in a marriage-like relationship - see the definition of spouse under Who is Eligible?), you should combine separate MSP accounts into one family account - see Adding a Spouse below. If one or both spouses are changing their names, follow the instructions for Name Change.

Divorce

Upon divorce, the former spouse of an account holder is no longer eligible for coverage under the same account. See Removing Dependents below.

Adding and Removing Dependents

If you are unsure who can be covered under your account, see Who is Eligible?

Adding a Newborn Child

The B.C. hospital where the baby is born will provide the mother with a Registration of Live Birth form that includes a section, on the reverse, to apply for MSP coverage for the newborn. For more information please go to Baby Enrolment/Addition of Newborn.

Adding a Spouse or Children

  • If you pay premiums directly through a self-administered account and the person you are adding is not already enrolled with MSP, complete an MSP Account Change . If the person is currently enrolled with MSP under a separate account, contact MSP with details, including the person's name, personal health number, and relationship to you.
  • If you are enrolled under a group plan administered by an employer, union or pension office, you need to complete a Group Change Request.

If the person you are adding to your account is already enrolled with MSP and is covered under an account administered by an employer, union or pension plan, that account will only be cancelled if the former group plan submits a request. If the person has a self-administered account, that account will be cancelled when the person is added to your plan.

It may be necessary to visit an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office (DLO) to complete enrolment in MSP. If this is the case, written notice with next steps will be mailed to you.

Removing Dependents

  • If you are covered under a self-administered account, you need to complete an MSP Account Change.
  • If you are covered under a group plan administered by an employer, union, or pension office, you need to complete a Group Change Request.
In the case of divorce, the former spouse is no longer eligible for coverage as a dependent and must apply for separate coverage.

Children are no longer eligible for coverage as dependents when they:
  • marry or live together in a marriage-like relationship,
  • start full-time employment,
  • or turn 19 years of age.
MSP will send a letter to the account holder as a child approaches age 19, advising that coverage as a dependent under that account will end on the last day of the month the child turns 19. MSP will provide continuous coverage for the child by setting up a new, self-administered account. Initially, a premium assistance subsidy of 100 per cent will be provided (if the residency requirements for premium assistance are met). The account holder has the option of continuing to cover the child, if the child is eligible. There are forms on the back of the letter for this purpose, or see Continued Enrolment in MSP for Ages 19-24. Dependent coverage can continue for children who are full-time students until the last day of the month in which they turn 25, provided they are not married or living in a marriage-like relationship, and are supported by the account holder.

When a family member passes away, it is not usually necessary to notify MSP. When a person dies in B.C., MSP's records are updated automatically. However, if the family member passed away outside B.C. or more than 60 days have elapsed and there is reason to believe MSP's records have not been updated, please contact MSP.

Absence from British Columbia

For information on your eligibility for MSP coverage and benefit entitlements while you are temporarily away from B.C., see Leaving B.C.

Cancelling Your Coverage

If you will no longer be a resident of B.C., you must notify MSP of the date of your departure and your new address; otherwise, premium billing may continue. If possible, use one of MSP's online Address Change Forms. Also see Permanent Move from B.C. (Note: failure to pay premiums does not constitute notification to cancel your coverage.)

Although enrolment in MSP is mandatory, it is possible for adults (but not minor children) to formally opt out of MSP coverage by completing an Election to Opt Out statement. B.C. residents who opt out are responsible for the payment of all medical, hospital and other health care services received during the 12 month opt out period.  An Election to Opt Out form must be completed each year. Residents cannot opt out retroactively in order to eliminate an outstanding premium debt; any outstanding amount is a debt owed to the province and is collectable under law.  For details, see Information About Opting Out of Ministry of Health Programs (PDF 120K). To obtain an Election to Opt Out form, contact MSP. If you are considering opting out because of financial difficulties, see Premium Assistance

Eligible First Nations Residents of B.C.

Basic Medical Coverage
MSP is the provincial government program that provides basic medical benefits. For example, MSP pays for medically required services of physicians and surgeons. All residents of B.C. are required to enrol with MSP. Up to July 1, 2013, individuals who are Registered Indians under the Indian Act and residents of B.C. are enrolled through Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

As of July 2, 2013, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will enrol and administer MSP under the B.C. First Nations Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance.

Eligibility extends to include all Status Indians who are residents of B.C. (excluding persons who receive health benefits by way of a First Nations organization pursuant to self-government agreements with Canada). Eligible B.C. First Nations currently receiving health benefits through Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits program living in B.C. should already be enrolled. First Nations clients that have their MSP premiums paid by their employer, or through another source, are encouraged to contact the Regional office (1 800 317-7878) to ensure they are on or added to the FNHA Eligibility List.

If you require an application for enrolment, see Medical Services Plan (MSP) Enrolment Application. If you need to make a change to your account, such as adding or deleting a family member (spouse or child with status), see Medical Services Plan (MSP) Change Request. For addition of a newborn see Baby Enrolment/Addition of a Newborn.

If you have a non-status family member who needs to obtain coverage, contact MSP directly.

Each person who is enrolled with MSP is issued a BC Services Card with a unique Personal Health Number that you present when health care services are required. If you already have a CareCard, you may continue to use it until you receive notification to renew enrolment. Visit BC Services Card for more information.

It may be necessary to visit an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office (DLO) to complete enrolment in MSP. If this is the case, written notice with next steps will be mailed to you. If you are already covered by MSP, forms are available on this web site to advise our office of an address change within B.C., or to advise us that you or a family member have left B.C. permanently (see Permanent Move from B.C.).
If you have a driver’s licence, you may also want to update your driver’s licence by visiting addresschange.gov.bc.ca.

First Nations Health Benefits

Effective October 1, 2013, the FNHA will provide Health Benefits (formerly Non-Insured Health Benefits) to eligible B.C. First Nations. For more information please contact:

First Nations Health Authority
Health Benefits Department

Vancouver and Lower Mainland: 604 666-3331
Other areas of B.C. (toll free): 1 800 317-7878


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