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BC insurance reforms increase int’l student costs

International students will see their health insurance premiums in British Columbia increase as the province moves to eliminate Medical Service Plan premiums for residents next year.

British ColumbiaFrom 2020, international students in British Columbia will see their health coverage premiums increase. Photo: Good Free Photos

Each province has its own regulations regarding insurance coverage for its international student populations

From September 1, any international students – including those in K12 education and language schools – who plan to stay in British Columbia for more than six months will be required to pay a monthly coverage fee of CAD$37.50.

This will increase to $75 per month on Jan 1, 2020, when the fees will no longer be required for residents.

“We have an exceptional healthcare system in BC, and we want to ensure it remains a fair system for everyone”

“For almost 30 years, BC has provided international students with provincial health coverage, while asking them to contribute a reasonable amount to help cover those costs. This updated payment method for international students continues that commitment,” Adrian Dix, the minister of health, said in a statement.

“We have an exceptional healthcare system in BC, and we want to ensure it remains a fair system for everyone.”

Each Canadian province has its own regulations regarding insurance coverage for its international student populations. Last year, Manitoba repealed its 2012 health coverage provisions for its international students.

BC first introduced coverage for all international students at schools and post-secondary institutes in 1992.

“Our feeling on the change is that providing access to reasonably priced BC MSP keeps the costs to students lower than if they had to buy more expensive private insurance due to not being allowed to participate in provincial MSP,” Brian Storey, director of Douglas College’s Global Engagement and International Student Services, told The PIE News.

“Being part of the provincial system simplifies student lived experience when they have a health need in B.C. by avoiding the need to recover personal costs paid for healthcare from third-party providers.”

A government report released last year revealed that more than 150,000 international students studied in British Columbia in 2017, a quarter of all international students in the country. It also found that international student enrolment in the public-post secondary system had tripled over the last decade.

Earlier this month, local media outlets claimed that under the current system, 40,000 international students were not enrolling and paying for MSP premiums.

“International students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University are required to have medical coverage and they must use our private medical insurance provider for the first semester of their studies in British Columbia,” Carole St. Laurent, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s interim associate vice president at KPU International, told The PIE.

“KPU provides our international students with information on the benefits of both the private and MSP coverage options. After the first semester, they can stay with the private insurer, switch to MSP or take both forms of coverage.

“As a result, the MSP changes won’t affect the way we administer medical coverage for our international students.”

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