Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

»  View the short list of Frequently Asked Questions.

How can I contact MSP?

See MSP Contacts for B.C. Residents.

FOR SERVICE IN FRENCH

Information is also available in French through Francophone Services at the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Information disponible en français grâce aux services francophones de la régie provinciale de la santé.

Phone/Tel : 604 875-3923
Toll Free/Sans frais : 1 800-331-1533 (option 4)
Email : plsfrancais@phsa.ca
Website : http://plsfrancais.phsa.ca

Where can I get MSP forms?

Most MSP forms are available on this web site. Some can be completed and submitted electronically and others can be printed and mailed to MSP.

Service BC Centres, located throughout B.C., have MSP pamphlets and forms on hand and will accept completed forms on behalf of MSP. Forms are also available by contacting MSP or can be sent to you through MSP’s Forms-by-Fax service, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 250 356-0998.

 

How do I contact the Travel Assistance Program?

The Travel Assistance Program (TAP BC) is available to eligible B.C. residents who are required to travel outside their home community to obtain non-emergency, physician-referred specialist medical care.

For more information about the Travel Assistance Program, please refer to the TAP BC web site or call Health Insurance BC at:

Vancouver: 604 683-7151
Other - Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100

What do I do if I am not satisfied with a decision that has been made by Health Insurance BC?

You can request a review of the decision by stating your case in writing and sending your letter and any supporting documents to Health Insurance BC:

Attention: Operations Director
Health Insurance BC
PO Box 9035 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC  V8W 9E3
Fax: 250 405-3595

What if I disagree with the response from Health Insurance BC?

If you disagree with the response from the operations director of Health Insurance BC, you can send a letter of appeal to the Ministry of Health:

Director
Medical Beneficiary Branch
Ministry of Health
3-1 1515 Blanshard St
Victoria BC  V8W 3C8
Fax: 250 952-3133

Who is eligible to enrol in MSP?

If you meet the ministry's criteria of being a B.C. resident, you are eligible to enrol with MSP. In fact, all residents of B.C. are required to enrol with MSP. See Who is Eligible?

How do I apply?

For information on applying for MSP coverage see How to Enrol with MSP.

I am new to B.C. - when will I be covered?

See When does Coverage Begin? and Coverage During the Wait Period.

If someone has received emergency medical care, while waiting to receive a BC Services Card, what should they do?

If you are waiting for a Personal Health Number and had a need or currently need urgent medical attention, then you should contact Health Insurance BC to inform them of the urgency so arrangements can be made for expediting processing of your BC Services Card application.

What do I do if I want to appeal the wait period for provincial health care coverage that new and returning residents are required to complete?

The wait period protects the province’s health care plans by reducing the likelihood of individuals coming to British Columbia for the purpose of receiving health care services at public expense. 

While a process is in place to review appeals from persons who have received, or will require, health care services during the wait period, waivers are only approved in the most extenuating circumstances. This process is not intended to address limits other provinces place on the coverage they provide or as a means by which a person can obtain early access to other B.C. health care programs. Routine pre-natal care and the routine birth of a baby do not generally qualify a person for a waiver.

Please note that this waiver process is intended for persons who have already established residence in British Columbia.

To review a request for a waiver of the wait period, the ministry requires the following:

  • a letter outlining the medical circumstances that are prompting your request and any extenuating circumstances you would like considered;
  • a completed Financial Statement (PDF 99K) (Please note: if the applicant is currently sponsored for status in Canada, the sponsor (and spouse, if applicable) must also complete a Financial Statement (PDF 99K)
  • copies of all health care invoices and/or receipts that pertain to care received during the wait period,
  • a letter from a physician or hospital outlining details of  your medical history, specifics surrounding your recent diagnosis, when the diagnosis was made, prognosis, the treatment plan for the wait period and in addition, copies of any supporting medical reports.

Send to:

Director
Medical Beneficiary Branch
Ministry of Health
PO Box 9652 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P4
Fax: 250 952-3133

How do I add a person (other than a newborn) to my account?

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

Self-Administered (Pay-Direct) Accounts - If you are covered under a self-administered account, please complete an MSP Account Change.

Group Plan Accounts - If you are covered under a group plan administered by an employer, union or pension office, you need to complete a Group Change Request.

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.

Note: 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 employer, union or pension 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.

How do I add a newborn child to my account?

You will find information under Baby Enrolment/Addition of Newborn.

I’m adopting a child from outside Canada – how do I add him/her to my coverage?

If you are covered under a self-administered account, you need to complete an MSP Account Change

If you are enrolled under a group plan administered by an employer, union or pension office, you need to complete a Group Change Request.

Your form must be submitted with photocopies of documents that support the child’s name and immigration status in Canada. If the child has been granted Canadian citizenship, provide a copy of his/her Canadian citizenship card or Canadian passport. Otherwise, if Citizenship and Immigration Canada has issued the child a “Confirmation of Permanent Residence” document that indicates the adoptive parents’ names, a copy of this document is usually sufficient.  If the child either holds a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document that does not include this information, or holds a different immigration document, two items are required:

  • A copy of the child’s current immigration document, for example his/her Confirmation of Permanent Residence, Permanent Resident Card (front and back), or Temporary Resident Permit, and
  • A letter from the Director, Adoption Branch, Ministry of Children and Family Development, to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, stating that the Ministry has no objection to the adoption (a letter of no objection).  

If the child is being adopted from the United States and arrives in BC before an immigration document has been issued, include a note to this effect and a copy of the letter described previously, with your completed form. 

I've recently become separated or divorced - do I need to change my MSP account?

If you were legally married and have become separated, you and your spouse can either remain covered under the same account or ask to be covered under separate accounts.

If you were legally married and are now divorced, or were living in a common-law relationship that has ended, you and your former spouse need to be covered under separate accounts. This is true even if you have a divorce agreement that specifies your spouse must pay your MSP premiums. How you request a change depends how your current account is set up.

If the account is in your former spouse’s name and you are eligible for enrolment under a group plan administered by your employer, union or pension office, you need to complete an Application for Group Enrolment.  Otherwise, contact MSP to set up an account in your own name.

When your new account is set up, in most cases your enrolment under your former spouse's account will cancel. However, if both the new and old account are under a group plan, your former spouse should let his/her benefits office know to cancel.

If the account is in your name, and you are covered under a group plan administered by an employer, union or pension plan, you need to complete a Group Change Request and submit it to the group plan. Otherwise, contact MSP to advise of your change in status. When your former spouse's enrolment under your account ends, MSP will automatically set up a new account for him/her.

In either case, please provide MSP with your address and, if known, your former spouse's address.

How do I stop coverage for someone under my account?

If you are covered under a self-administered account, complete an MSP Account Change, visit a Service BC Centre in your area, or contact MSP. If the request is because of separation, divorce or a child leaving home, please provide the person's new address and, if applicable, the date he or she moved out of province.

If you are covered under a group plan administered by an employer, union or pension office, you need to complete a Group Change Request.

How do I report an address change within B.C.?

There is an online Address Change Notice for Persons Moving Within B.C. that can be completed and submitted on this web site. You can also obtain a form from our Forms-by-Fax service, by visiting a local Service BC Centre or by contacting MSP.

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

I am leaving B.C. - what do I need to know?

If you are leaving B.C. temporarily, you need to be aware that there are time limits on out-of-province benefits available to you while you are away (see Temporary Absence from B.C.). You should purchase additional health insurance from a private insurer before you leave the province, regardless of whether you will be in another part of Canada or outside the country - even if you plan to be away for only a day.

If you are leaving B.C. permanently, you must notify MSP when you plan to move from the province. Advising MSP of your move ensures that your coverage will be cancelled and you will no longer be billed for MSP premiums after you leave the province. There is an online Permanent Move Outside B.C. form that can be completed and submitted on this web site. You may also obtain a form by visiting a Service BC Centre in your area or by contacting MSP.

For additional, important information, see Leaving B.C.

I am a vacationer outside B.C. and qualify for the seven month absence in a calendar year – do I need to take the seven months all at once?

If you meet the residency requirements to vacation outside B.C. for a total of seven months in a calendar year, the seven months may be taken all at once or split between separate absences in a calendar year.

Can I qualify for the seven month absence in a calendar year if the reason I am outside B.C. is not for vacation purposes?

No. If you are outside B.C. for any purpose other than to vacation, such as employment, attending school or working as a missionary or a volunteer, you do not meet the requirements to qualify for a seven month absence in a calendar year.

Am I still eligible for an extended absence of up to 24 consecutive months if I have been vacationing outside B.C. for seven months in a calendar year?

Vacationing outside B.C. for a total of seven months in a calendar year may affect your eligibility for an extended absence of up to 24 consecutive months. For information on extended absences see Leaving BC.

How do I report a change of name?

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

How do I update my record of 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.

If my BC Services Card/CareCard is lost, stolen or damaged, how do I get a replacement?

See Replace Your Card.

I am working for a new employer who will look after my medical coverage. How can I cancel my current account and what should I do with the premium invoices/collections letters I am receiving?

You don't need to cancel the current account; MSP will do that for you when the new account is set up. Please check the period of coverage on your bill or collections letter. If you owe premiums from before the new employer started paying them, then you will still need to pay that amount. If you have received a collections letter for the period covered by the new employer, contact the agency to avoid further collection action.

I am leaving an employer who has been looking after my medical coverage - what do I do to set up a new account?

A new self-pay account will be set up automatically when your group account is cancelled, and you will be billed for premiums. For information regarding premiums, including premium assistance, see Premiums.

Note: you should contact MSP if you do not receive a premium billing notice within 90 days and have not qualified for a 100 per cent premium subsidy.

I am in Canada on a work permit which expires shortly and due to delays with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) I have not received my new work permit - can I extend my coverage?

It is understood that delays with CIC may result in a person being without a valid work permit for a period of time, even though CIC has accepted an application for a new work permit prior to the expiry date of their current permit.  Any person in this situation—who has been advised by CIC that they have ‘implied status’ and may continue to work pending issuance of their new permit—can request an extension of coverage. Upon receipt of a written request for an extension, which includes a copy of the receipt that was issued when the fee for the new work permit was paid, coverage may be extended for three months beyond the original cancellation date. This is on the understanding that the person will later be issued a permit that will indicate that they have ‘maintained’ their status and that qualifies him or her for coverage. 

If there is a further delay, a second request may be submitted, which will need to include copies of all correspondence received from CIC, along with a letter from the employer confirming that the person continues to remain employed. A second three month extension may be approved, providing a total of six months coverage beyond the original cancellation date. 

How do I request information on setting up an MSP group plan for employees?

See New Company Information.

I have a child who will be turning 19 shortly - what should I do to continue his or her MSP coverage?

As your child approaches age 19, MSP will send a letter to you, advising that coverage as a dependent under your account will end on the last day of the month the child turns 19. Unless you request otherwise, MSP will automatically set up a new, self-administered account for the child. Initially, 100 per cent Premium Assistance will be provided (if the residency requirements for Premium Assistance are met). You do have the option of continuing to cover your child as a dependent if he or she is single, supported by you and attending school full-time. If this is your preference, please see Continued Enrolment in MSP for Ages 19-24.

See Who is Eligible and Adding and Removing Dependents for full details.

A family member passed away recently - does MSP need to be advised?

Not usually. When a person passes away in B.C. our 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 our records have not been updated, MSP should be advised.

If the person was covered under a self-administered account, you can either visit a Service BC Centre in your area or contact MSP. You will need to provide the person's name, personal health number and the date he or she passed away.

If the person was covered under a group plan administered by a third party such as an employer, union or pension office, contact that party. They, in turn, will advise MSP. If the person who passed away was the account holder and other family members were covered under the same account, the group plan will be able to advise whether they will continue to cover the family members.

Do I have to pay for MSP coverage? Are there special rates for seniors and students?

Yes, premiums are payable for MSP coverage. See Premiums for current rates. There are no special rates for seniors or students, although they may qualify for a subsidy. Five levels of subsidies are available to eligible applicants through MSP's Regular Premium Assistance program.

How do I pay my premiums?

See the Ministry of Finance's web site under Medical Services Plan Invoicing (MSP premium invoicing is administered by that Ministry, through Revenue Services of British Columbia).

I've received a premium invoice I can't afford - what should I do?

You may be eligible for a subsidy under MSP's Regular Premium Assistance program, based on your adjusted net income from the previous year. For information on this program, see Premium Assistance.

If you believe you qualify for a subsidy, complete an Application for Regular Premium Assistance and forward it to MSP. You can obtain an Application for Regular Premium Assistance from this web site or our Forms-by-Fax service, by visiting a Service BC Centre in your area or by contacting MSP.

Note: MSP coverage is not cancelled when a person's premiums are in arrears. Cancellation only occurs if a person ceases to be a resident of B.C. or there is concern that the individual may no longer be a resident.

I’m on a working holiday program – what do I need to send to apply for coverage?

Persons on a working holiday program need to have:

  • a working permit valid for at least six consecutive months or more,
  • must be staying in British Columbia for at least six consecutive months, and
  • be working a minimum of 18 hours per week.

To apply for coverage, those with a valid working permit on a working holiday program must submit the Application for Enrolment form with both of the following items to determine eligibility:

  1. Confirmation of employment in British Columbia with:
    • a copy of your employment contract indicating full-time status or the number of hours worked per week, OR
    • a letter from your employer stating the date employment started and expected to end, and indicate full-time status or the number of hours worked per week.
  2. Departure date from British Columbia.

I have applied for Regular Premium Assistance but have not yet heard back. What should I do about the premium invoices I am receiving?

Changes to your premium rate may be retroactive to the date you qualified to receive assistance (to a maximum of six retroactive years from the current calendar year). In the meantime, please continue to pay the premium invoices you are receiving. If a collection agency contacts you, please advise them that you have applied for Regular Premium Assistance. As long as you are a resident of B.C., your MSP coverage will not be cancelled due to overdue or unpaid premiums.

I recently received a premium invoice earlier than I expected - am I being overcharged?

MSP premium invoicing is administered by the Ministry of Finance, through Revenue Services of British Columbia. Go to Medical Services Plan Invoicing to see if the information you need is there. If it is not, please contact Revenue Services of British Columbia to discuss your invoice.

I have been contacted by a collection agency, but don’t believe I owe the premiums being requested. What should I do?

To discuss your specific situation, call the telephone number provided by the collection agency.

If you recently applied for premium assistance, or your premiums are now paid under an employer’s group plan, you should inform the collection agency. You remain responsible for paying any premiums that will not be 100% subsidized under the assistance program, or that are for a time before you were covered by the employer.

How is MSP able to verify my income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)?

Each person who signs an Application for Regular Premium Assistance also signs a statement authorizing MSP to verify his/her income with CRA on an ongoing basis. This authorization eliminates the need to fill out an application form each year. Also see Income Verification.

Do I have to reapply for premium assistance every year?

If you have already registered for premium assistance, you do not need to register again for future years.

Why has my Regular Premium Assistance level changed?

The most common reason is that your net income has changed compared to the previous year. Health Insurance BC performs income verifications through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) annually and if your net income has changed then your subsidy level can be affected.

If your premium subsidy changes, Health Insurance BC will send you a letter advising you of the change and the reason for the change. This is done automatically. There is no need to call Health Insurance BC unless you disagree with the information that CRA provided.

People who wish to apply for Regular Premium Assistance are asked to complete and return an Application for Regular Premium Assistance form to Health Insurance BC. If you have already submitted a form please do not submit a second application. A Temporary Premium Assistance form (pdf) is also available from the Ministry of Finance.

MSP has stopped my premium assistance because I don't file an income tax return. I'm not required to file a tax return, so how do I start getting premium assistance again?

MSP needs you to file an income tax return if you want to receive premium assistance, even though the federal government may not require it. Please file a return and send MSP a copy of your Notice of Assessment when it is received from the Canada Revenue Agency. If you have a spouse, a copy of his or her Notice of Assessment will also be needed.

I haven't had to pay premiums for years. Why did I receive a letter saying I have to start paying again?

Even if you haven't had to pay for years, premiums are not automatically waived. If you have been receiving 100 percent assistance but now are being asked to pay premiums, it is likely because of information received from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about your annual net income and, if applicable, that of your spouse. The exception is if you have received a letter from MSP stating that we have been unable to verify your or your spouse's income with CRA.

MSP has made a change to my Regular Premium Assistance because of information from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about my previous year's income. What do I do if I don't agree with the change MSP has made?

First, it is important to understand that eligibility for Regular Premium Assistance is based on net income from your Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment from the CRA. If your net income for the previous year was higher than usual because, for example, you cashed in RRSPs, that change could affect your eligibility for Regular Premium Assistance for a period of time.

If your tax return has been re-assessed and you think this may result in a change to your premium, please send MSP a copy of your Notice of Re-Assessment. If your spouse's tax return has been re-assessed, MSP will also need a copy of his or her Notice.

My account was adjusted retroactively due to information MSP received from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); now I owe premiums for earlier months. Why didn't MSP check my previous year's income before now?

MSP checks with CRA several times a year, starting in the spring. Until a person's income tax return has been processed, CRA cannot provide the information MSP needs.

Note: If a person's return has not been filed and processed by the last time MSP checks a particular year's income, the person may get a warning letter or a letter advising that premium assistance has been taken away.

What coverage is available when I go to the acupuncturist, physical therapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, naturopath or podiatrist?

Only those MSP beneficiaries with premium assistance status are eligible for a combined annual limit (each calendar year) of 10 visits for acupuncturist services, physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy and non-surgical podiatry. MSP pays $23 for each visit. Your practitioner will inform you if you can expect an additional charge over what MSP pays. Surgical podiatry is covered for all MSP beneficiaries. See Supplementary Health Care Benefits for full details.

When are routine eye examinations a benefit of MSP?

Routine eye examinations are an MSP benefit for persons age 65 and older, or age 18 and younger. Routine examinations are no longer a benefit for people between 19 and 64 years old. However, all eye examinations that are medically required continue to be a benefit for all age groups. See Supplementary Health Care Benefits for more information.

How do I make a claim for medical services received in Quebec or outside Canada?

You need to complete an Out of Country Claim Form, available from this web site, through the Forms-by-Fax service, by visiting a Service BC Centre in your area, or by contacting MSP. Submit the completed form and supporting documentation to MSP.

See Medical Care Outside B.C. for details of what services are eligible for reimbursement.

Where can I obtain information about the Healthy Kids program?

Healthy Kids provides basic vision and dental care to eligible children under B.C. Benefits, administered by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. For information, please see Healthy Kids.

Where can I find information about PharmaCare?

For information about coverage for prescription drugs and medical supplies, see the PharmaCare web site. You can also call the PharmaCare program at:

   Vancouver area: 604 683-7151
   Other areas of B.C. (toll free): 1 800 663-7100
 

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