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 provided the services are medically required, rendered by a licensed physician and normally insured by MSP. Reimbursement for physician services will be made in Canadian funds and payment will 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 provide any coverage for treatment provided by a health care practitioner outside the province (e.g. physician assistants, nurse practitioners, chiropractors or physical therapists).

PharmaCare does not provide coverage for prescription drugs or medical supplies when obtained outside B.C. Provincial assistance is also not provided to subsidize payment for ambulance services outside B.C.

If medical care is not provided by a physician, or if you require a prescription or ambulance service while you are in another province or outside Canada, you will be charged the full cost for any medical service provided by the health care practitioner (non-physician), prescription or ambulance service. Fees can often range from several hundred to several thousand dollars and your costs will not be reimbursed by the Ministry of Health. 

Although the province does provide some coverage for emergency hospital care when you travel outside Canada, the province limits coverage to a maximum daily payment of $75.00, in Canadian funds.  

When purchasing travel insurance, you are advised to obtain insurance that will cover the additional costs for physician and hospital care and for the provincial services that are not insured outside B.C. such as prescription and ambulance services, and 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.

Learn more about how your health care benefits change when you leave B.C. (PDF 360KB)

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.