The British Columbia Health Card (also known as the BC services card) is a must-have. The plastic card gives you access to the life-saving health care system.
The card is issued under a health insurance scheme. In British Columbia, the healthcare program is called the Medical Services Plan (MSP).
In this short article we’ll cover a number of things:
- Types of health insurance plans in British Columbia,
- the BC MSP and how to enrol,
- how to get your BC health card,
- what you can do with your card,
- how to renew the card and
- what to do if you lose your bc health card.
Table of Contents
- BC Health Care Card and Insurance Plans
- BC Health Insurance Plan (MSP)
- How to enrol for British Columbia MSP Health Insurance
- Your British Columbia Health card
- How to renew your BC health card
- What if you lose your card?
- Frequently Asked Questions.
BC Health Care Card and Insurance Plans
Health care in British Columbia is accessed with the British Columbia health card. As a resident of BC, you must enrol and get your bc health card.
Your bc health card gives you access to a health insurance plan that was put together by the British Columbia province for her residents.
Types of Insurance Plans in British Columbia
There are two types of health insurance plans in British Columbia. There’s provincial (BC) health insurance and private health insurance.
BC health care insurance plan
The British Columbia government insurance plan is known as the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Every resident of British Columbia must register with MSP. Even foreign arrivals to British Columbia are required to register for MSP and get their health care card.
A slight issue is that MSP coverage only kicks in on the fourth month after registration. So if you register on August 1st, your coverage starts by December 1st.
The BC government advises that you get private health insurance for this three-month interval before your MSP coverage starts.
Private health Insurance through David Cummings Insurance
Registering with the David Cummings Health Insurance for the three-month period is easy. Since the company suspended in-person visits due to Covid19, you can simply send an email to [email protected] or call the company via Telephone:
North America (Toll-Free): 1.800.818.3188
Local and Outside North America: 604.228.8816
BC Health Insurance Plan (MSP)
The Medical Services Plan is state-owned health insurance. Every resident of British Columbia must register with MSP and get their British Columbia health card.
MSP pays for the medical services of BC residents. Let us see who is eligible to to enjoy MSP health care coverage.
Who is eligible to register for MSP?
To make it clear, there are three classes of individuals that must register with MSP.
- Citizens or permanent residents,
- Temporary residents living in British Columbia, and
- Anyone that’ll be staying in British Columbia for at least six months.
Visitors and tourists are exempted.
What does your BC health card cover under MSP?
Once you’re enrolled with the MSP and you have a BC services card, most of your medical services will be covered by the insurance plan. They include:
- Visits to doctors or physicians enrolled with MSP,
- Diagnostics (tests, x-rays) at an approved facility,
- Maternal care,
- One annual eye exam for children aged 0-18 years or adults aged 65-years and older,
- Medically required eye examinations for adults aged 19-64 by an ophthalmologist or optometrist,
- Dental surgery that needs to be performed in a hospital,
- Orthodontic services related to severe facial abnormalities.
What is not covered by your BC health card?
Your card under the MSP does not cover:
- Medically unnecessary surgeries/treatments (e.g. cosmetic surgery),
- Dental care,
- Routine eye examinations for residents between 19-64 years old,
- Medical devices (Eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.),
- Complementary or alternative medical treatments, (e.g. chiropractor, physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, or non-surgical podiatry services),
- Psychotherapy or counselling,
- Preventive screening medical tests or services not deemed medically necessary,
- Medical examinations (e.g. for immigration application, life insurance policy, or employment)
How to enrol for British Columbia MSP Health Insurance
Only two simple steps are required:
- Submit your application.
- Obtain your BC Health/Services Card
Step #1: Submit your application.
Those applying through their employer, union or pension plan would have to do it a bit differently. Simply contact their office and ask them for your MSP group enrolment form.
If you’re applying on your own, there are two ways to go:
- You can submit an online application. It takes about 15 minutes.
- You can apply by mail. To apply by mail, you first download the enrollment form and fill. Next mail the completed form to:
Health Insurance BC
Medical Services Plan
PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9P7
Applying is that simple.
Step #2: Obtain your BC Health/Services Card
Your BC Services card also serves as your British Columbia health care card. You can get your BC Services card from an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
It’s easy. Simply book an appointment and go get your card from the nearest driver’s licensing office.
Your British Columbia Health card
When you get your BC Health Card, it will have a number on it. The number is called the Personal Health Number (PHN) and you can’t share it with anybody (not even your child).
Your PHN can never change since it uniquely identifies you and makes you eligible to receive medical services.
The card is used to obtain insured medical and health care services. Your card is also used to obtain PharmaCare prescription drug benefits.
Carry your card at all times so that whenever you need health care services they will be readily available.
There are two types of BC Health/Services cards:
- BC Health Card with a Photo.
- BC Health Card without a Photo
#1 BC Health Card with a Photo
If you are able to visit an ICBC centre for your BC Services Card, chances are you will be issued a card with your photo on it.
At the ICBC office, you will need to:
- Provide two pieces of identification – one of which must be primary ID;
- Prove that you are a BC resident; and
- Have your photo taken. (the photo that’ll appear on your card)
#2 BC Health Card without a photo
Individuals over 75 years or older or anyone that cannot visit an ICBC office will have to request a non-photo BC services card.
Just call Health Insurance BC (HIBC) on the phone and your card will be put in the mail.
How to renew your BC health card
Your health insurance (your Medical Services Plan) is tied to your BC health Card. You will see an expiry date printed on your card. You renew your MSP (and also renew your BC health card) by renewing your driver’s license.
If you don’t drive, simply visit any driver licensing office and renew your card.
MSP renewal exemptions
You don’t need to renew your enrolment in MSP if you are in one of these two categories:
#1 You are 75 years old or older
Seniors over 75 are not required to renew MSP, but you may apply for a BC health card when you renew your BCID or driver’s license.
#2 You are under 19 years old
Children under 19 are automatically issued non-photo BC health cards.
What if you lose your card?
Replacing lost, stolen or damaged cards is simple.
To start, follow the steps below:
#1 Replacing Your Photo BC health card
You must report your missing card by calling:
You’re in Victoria: (250) 978-8300
Elsewhere in B.C.: 1-800-950-1498
Get your replacement by visiting an ICBC driver licencing office.
#2 Replacing Your Non-photo BC health Card
If your card has no photo, first report the missing card by phoning the Health Insurance BC (HIBC) asap:
You’re in Vancouver: (604) 683-7151
Elsewhere in B.C.: 1-800-663-7100
HIBC will help you get a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Can I get free treatment without my British Columbia health care card?
No, you will have to pay the full cost for any healthcare services you need if you do not have your British Columbia health card.
Do I need to register with MSP to get a BC health card?
Yes, registering with MSP is mandatory to get your bc health card.
How long does it take to get MSP coverage?
It takes three months before your MSP coverage kicks in. You are advised to get private health insurance for that three month period.
How can I apply for my British Columbia health card?
Once you enrol with the Medical Services Program, the next step is to visit the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
How can I renew my BC Health Card?
Your BC health card is tied to your MSP enrolment. And you renew your MSP (and hence your health card) whenever you renew your driver’s license. If you don’t drive, visit the nearest driver’s licensing office to renew your bc health card.
Can I process a BC photo health card without supporting documents?
No, you cannot. You will need to visit the licensing office with the documents mentioned in the article above. But if you want to apply for the non-photo bc health card, you do not need supporting documents.
How do I know my British Columbia health card number?
Your Personal Health number is boldly printed on your BC health card.