The Government of British Columbia has a health insurance plan called the Medical Services Plan (MSP).
MSP pays for most health costs—for example, doctors, most medical tests, and treatments.

To access this plan, you need to be a resident of British Columbia, and one of the following:

  • a Canadian citizen,
  • a landed immigrant,
  • a government-assisted refugee,
  • a post-secondary international student with a study permit,
  • a temporary worker with a work permit for six months or longer.

You should register for medical insurance as soon as you arrive in B.C. All residents must register with the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Once you apply, it may take up to three months before you can access MSP, so you should buy private medical insurance for that time. If you do not have medical insurance, you must pay the doctor or hospital yourself, which can be expensive.

Are there any fees?

MSP insurance coverage is not free. If you have a job, MSP premiums may be paid by your employer. If you do not have employer coverage, you must pay a monthly fee (premium). The costs per month are:

  • for a single person: $60.50
  • for a family of two: $109
  • for a family of three or more: $121

These costs could change. It is best to research the costs when you register.

If your income is low, you may be eligible for premium assistance. You may be able to pay less, or get free MSP coverage. You must have lived in Canada for the last 12 months (one year) as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. You need to fill out a form to apply for premium assistance.

Find more information and the forms for MSP premium assistance, on the Ministry of Health website or call 1-800-663-7100.

PharmaCare Prescription Drug Program

As soon as you get your CareCard, you should register for prescription drug insurance with PharmaCare. It is a B.C. government program. It may pay some of the cost for prescription drugs you buy in B.C. You have to be a permanent resident of B.C. and already have MSP coverage. Fair PharmaCare is for all B.C. families. The lower your income, the more help you will get to pay for prescription drugs.

For detailed information, and to enrol in Fair Pharmacare, visit the Ministry of Health Fair Pharmacare website.


Dial 9-1-1 right away if there is a serious medical emergency.

If you need an ambulance to take you to the hospital, you should call 911or the emergency number in your area. The ambulance will take you to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. You will get a bill later, since ambulances are not covered under MSP. Ambulances can be covered under private or other insurance. You also might qualify for assistance, depending on your income.

The Emergency Department of a hospital can deal with emergency and non-emergency health problems. You can visit the Emergency Department without having an appointment.

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