The Government of B.C. has a health plan called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). It is only for eligible B.C. residents who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents (including government-assisted refugees). Post-secondary international students with study permits and people with work permits for six months or longer may also be eligible for MSP. MSP pays for basic, medically required health costs—For example, some doctor visits, some medical tests, and treatments. Some health costs are not covered by MSP—for example, dentists and physiotherapists. Please contact Health Insurance BC for more information. Metro Vancouver: 604 683-7151 Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100
Registering for MSP
All residents of B.C. must register with MSP. You should register as soon as you arrive. There may be a waiting period. You may not be eligible for MSP coverage for up to three months. If you don’t have medical coverage, medical costs can be very high. You should buy private medical insurance for this time. If you do not have MSP, you must pay the doctor or hospital yourself. When you apply for MSP, make sure that you give your name exactly as it is on other official documents. Phone Health Insurance BC to find out how to register.
Get your BC Services Card
You will use the BC Services Card to access health-care services. www.gov.bc.ca/bcservicescard
To get your BC Services Card:
- Complete and send the BC Medical Services Plan enrolment form.
- Around one month after you send your documents and enrolment form, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail. Take the letter to an ICBC driver licensing office. You will also need to take two pieces of identification.
• Find out what kind of identification you will need.
• Find an ICBC office near you. www.icbc.com/locators/Pages/ default.aspx
If you have a job, your employer may pay your Medical Services Plan premiums. If not, you must pay the premiums yourself. If your income is low, you may be eligible for premium assistance that covers all or part of your costs. To qualify for premium assistance, you must have lived in Canada for the last 12 months as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Learn more about Medical Services Plan premium assistance or call 1-800-663-7100.
There are two types of doctors in British Columbia:
Family doctors (general practitioners or GPs) and specialists. Family doctors take care of most medical problems. You can also talk to your family doctor about emotional problems, nutrition, and family planning. Specialists treat special health problems, such as heart disease. If you are sick, go to a family doctor first. Your family doctor may refer (send) you to a specialist. If you think you need to see a specialist, you must talk to your family doctor first and ask for a referral.
Finding a family doctor
• Talk to people at your immigrant settlement agency. They may be able to help you find a doctor who speaks your language. Find a settlement agency near you. www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/ services.asp
• The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia has an online list of family doctors. www.cpsbc.ca/physician_search
• Ask your friends, neighbours, people you work with, or other people in your community.
Making an appointment
Before you go to the doctor, phone the doctor’s office for an appointment. Always take your BC Services Card with you when you go to a doctor
Most cities and towns in B.C. have walk-in clinics. You don’t need an appointment or a family doctor to go to a walk-in clinic. Many are open in the evening and on weekends. To find a walk-in clinic near you, search the HealthLinkBC Directory. You will need to present a valid BC Services Card.