British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP)

There are two main health insurance plans in British Columbia:

  1. Medical Services Plan (MSP)
  2. Pharmacare

You should:

  1. apply for MSP health coverage as soon as you arrive in British Columbia to cover you for most visits to doctors, hospitals and clinics; and then 
  2. register online for PharmaCare,which may help with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and some medical supplies.


Premium Assistance is available for those who are on a low income or cannot afford to pay the monthly MSP premium (payment). Apply online or contact MSP.

Who is eligible for the Medical Services Plan (MSP)?

  • Permanent Residents are eligible for MSP after a waiting period of up to three months. During the waiting period, individuals may arrange for coverage with a private insurance company. 
  • Students in programs longer than six months must get basic health care through MSP. It is recommended that you buy extended medical coverage, but some universities and colleges have group plans available for students. If your family is with you in British Columbia, they should also have health insurance. 
  • Refugees should contact Health Insurance BC and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Interim Federal Health Program for more information. 
  • If you are a tourist or visitor, you should buy health insurance before you leave home. 
  • If you do not know if you qualify for health insurance, please see MSP frequently asked questions or contact them.

Should I get private medical insurance?

You may decide to get private medical insurance to protect you while waiting for your MSP application to be processed, or to provide additional health benefits or dental coverage not covered by MSP. You can find out more about private medical insurance by checking with an Immigrant Settlement Agency, speaking to your employer, talking to your friends or by visiting a bank or insurance company.