Medical Services Plan Response to COVID-19

Last Updated: April 9, 2020

Temporary Coverage

Temporary Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage may be available to assist individuals in B.C. impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Expired Temporary Work or Study Permits

If your temporary permits have expired and you no longer have MSP coverage, you may be provided temporary MSP coverage if:

  • You are currently living in B.C.
  • You were previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident
  • Your MSP has expired

Contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage.

Temporary Foreign Workers

Temporary foreign workers in B.C. with a permit of less than 6 months, who would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP, will be provided temporary MSP coverage to July 31, 2020 or the end of your permit, whichever is sooner. 

 Contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage.

Exceeding the Allowable Absence from B.C.

Temporary coverage may be provided if you are unable to return home due to COVID-19, and you will exceed your maximum allowable absence from B.C.

This includes if you are outside Canada for vacation, work, or in full time studies as per the Medical and Health Care Services Regulations.

Temporary coverage will be valid until July 31, 2020.

If you are out of country, provincial emergency coverage is limited to the physician fee rates that are published in the Medical Services Commission Payment Schedule. The Hospital Insurance Act and Hospital Insurance Act Regulations limits the in-patient hospital per diem rate for hospital services outside Canada, to a maximum of $75 per day, in Canadian funds.

B.C. residents are strongly advised to purchase additional health insurance when travelling to other countries.

Check with your private health insurance provider to see if there is coverage for COVID-19.

Waiving the Wait Period

The three-month MSP coverage wait period will be waived for eligible individuals effective March 1, 2020, onwards. To determine if you are eligible for enrolment in MSP visit Are You Eligible.

It is each individuals’ responsibility to meet and maintain the residency requirements for MSP coverage.

B.C. Services Card & MSP

The B.C. Services Card provides access to government services. It replaces the CareCard for access to health care services. The card is used for access to:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministries of Health and Citizens’ Services are working closely with the Insurance Corporation of BC to develop phone-based options for individuals whose B.C. Driver’s Licence or MSP coverage require extensions. A temporary measure is now in place for combination, stand-alone and non-photo B.C. Services Cards that will soon expire to allow for continued access to online services. 

Until further notice, these options eliminate the need for most B.C. residents to physically visit a driver licensing office to renew their card(s). For more information on how to get an extension visit:

Options are available to assist individuals who are unwilling or unable to visit an ICBC driving licensing office during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewing MSP Enrolment

You may request a Confirmation of Continued Coverage letter from Health Insurance BC if you are unwilling or unable to visit an ICBC driver licensing office to renew your MSP enrolment and get a renewed B.C. Services Card.

Get a Confirmation of Continued Coverage letter by contacting Health Insurance BC and tell them your circumstances. You will receive the letter in the mail.

You can still access provincially insured health care benefits using the Personal Health Number that is printed on an expired B.C. Services Card with another form of identification.

New Residents to B.C.

MSP applicants who are unwilling or unable to visit an ICBC driver licensing office to complete their MSP enrolment, may be enrolled in MSP with temporary coverage if they have successfully registered with Health Insurance BC.

Get a Confirmation of Temporary Coverage letter by contacting Health Insurance BC and tell them your circumstances. You will receive the letter in the mail.

If you are temporarily enrolled in MSP this way, you will not be issued a BC Services Card. You will be provided with the Confirmation of Temporary Coverage letter as evidence of temporary MSP enrolment. This letter outlines that coverage is active and gives you your Personal Health Number.

Temporary coverage will be valid until July 31, 2020.

COVID-19 Treatment for Non-MSP Individuals

Access to provincially insured health care coverage for COVID-19 treatment may be available.

If you have questions about your or a family members’ health related to COVID-19 symptoms or other medical issues, please call 8-1-1.

If you are present in B.C. and would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP, you will be provided provincially insured health care coverage for services related to, suspected, or confirmed cases of infection with COVID-19.

Services for unrelated conditions that are performed on non-eligible MSP patients will remain uninsured.

Your attending medical professional will be responsible for determining your eligibility for this coverage