Medical Benefits Outside of B.C.

If you are eligible for coverage while temporarily absent from B.C., MSP will help pay for unexpected medical services you receive anywhere in the world, provided the services are medically required, rendered by a licensed physician and normally insured by MSP. Reimbursement is made in Canadian funds and does not exceed the amount payable had the same services been performed in B.C. Any excess cost is the responsibility of the beneficiary.

MSP does not cover the services of health care providers other than physicians (e.g. chiropractors or physical therapists) outside the province. Similarly, PharmaCare does not provide coverage for prescription drugs or medical supplies when obtained outside B.C.

It is also important to be aware that the Ministry of Health does not subsidize fees charged for ambulance service obtained outside B.C. If you require ambulance service while in another province or outside Canada, you will be charged the fees established by the out-of-province ambulance service provider. Fees range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. When purchasing additional out-of-province insurance, you are advised to obtain insurance that will cover emergency transportation while you are away and, if necessary, the cost of transportation back to B.C.

Out-of-Province Emergency Medical Care

Most physicians in other Canadian provinces and territories (except Quebec) will bill their own provincial health plan for services provided if you present your valid B.C. CareCard or BC Services Card. The provinces recover the funding monthly between each other.

When travelling in Quebec or outside of Canada, you will probably be required to pay for your medical services and seek reimbursement later from MSP.

B.C. residents are strongly advised to purchase additional health insurance when travelling to other Canadian provinces to cover the cost of services not included in the reciprocal agreement between provinces.

Out-of-Country Emergency Medical Care

The cost of medical care outside Canada can be much higher than the amounts payable by MSP and extended health care plans. For complete protection, additional medical insurance should be purchased from a private insurance company, even if you only plan to leave the country for a day. Check the exclusions and limitations of your private insurance policy carefully to ensure that the policy meets your personal needs.

If you have extended health benefits through your employer you should contact them to determine the policy provisions prior to purchasing additional medical insurance.

When you receive medical services outside Canada (or in some instances outside B.C.), you will need to claim reimbursement from MSP using an Out of Country Claim Form. The completed form should be returned with:

  • an itemized account, including the dates of service and details of services performed, and
  • either the unpaid bills or the original receipts if the bills have been paid.

Note: Out of Country claims must be submitted within 90 days of the date of service. In-patient hospital claims (and any associated medical claims) must be submitted within six months of discharge.

Payment for physician services will be issued in Canadian funds only and will be paid at the same rate that would have been paid if the services were received in B.C.

Elective (Non-Emergency) Medical Care Outside Canada

If you leave Canada specifically to obtain medical or hospital care (and you would like to have your provincial coverage help pay for it), the medical specialist looking after your care in B.C. must write to MSP and provide information regarding the medical necessity for a referral outside of Canada. The specialist needs to provide information about what other treatment options have been explored elsewhere in B.C. and/or Canada.

Treatment which is considered to be experimental or still in the developmental (research) stage is not eligible for coverage.

Note: If you do not obtain MSP approval for elective out of country medical care, all costs for services received outside Canada will be your personal responsibility. Travel and accommodation costs are not eligible for coverage.

Learn more about what types of medical care outside of British Columbia are covered.