MSP: British Columbia’s Provincial Insurance

November 4, 2019
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The Medical Services Plan, also known as MSP, is a public, provincial health insurance provided by the government of British Columbia. It covers all medically required services, including eye examinations, dental and oral care, and diagnostic services like X-rays.

But if you're looking for a telemedicine service to connect you with doctors right from your home, we recommend Maple instead.

MSP or Medical Services Plan is the public health insurance available for all British Columbia residents. The MSP covers all medically required services, including doctors’ visits and diagnosis services.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about this program. From how to know if you’re eligible, how to enroll, and what benefits does this government insurance has to offer you, to the ways you can make the most out of it.

What Is The MSP? 

The MSP is the public health insurance available for eligible Canadian residents in British Columbia. This insurance is provided by the government of the B.C. province, and it covers the cost of medically-necessary insured doctor services, as stated on their webpage. 

The MSP focuses on connecting Canadian citizens with doctors and helps provide them with doctor’s appointments, appointments with specialist doctors (like a gastroenterologist), and even hospital stays to treat medical problems.

RELATED: You’re from Ontario? Check our article about Telehealth Ontario and how to get access to a free medical advice network.

Eligibility And Enrollment 

According to the Medicare Protection Act, enrollment in the Medical Services Plan is mandatory for all eligible residents, including their dependents. So, if you’re a resident of British Columbia, but aren’t sure if you’re eligible, here’s all the info you might need!

Am I Eligible?

To know if you are eligible for this insurance you need to fall under one of these four categories:


A resident is any person living in British Columbia that follows all the required conditions:

  • Being a Canadian citizen or being lawfully admitted to Canada for a permanent residence
  • Has their home in B.C
  • Must be physically present in B.C at least six months in a calendar year.


Depends on any Medical Service Plan beneficiaries can also be eligible for coverage if they fall under any of the categories mentioned above. A dependent can be a spouse, children or a post-secondary student.

First Nations Residents

The First Nations Health Authority is responsible for enrolling and managing MSP to all status Indians who are residents of British Columbia. If you fall under this category and don’t know if you’re enrolled, you can check that on the MSP webpage.

Other Individuals In B.C.

There are some other individuals who are also eligible to enroll in MSP, including holders of work and/or study permits (including work permits on working holiday programs!) Of course, tourists and visitors cannot apply to this type of insurance.

How To Enroll

Applying for MSP is very simple and can be done online through their website. It takes only about 15 minutes. You can also apply manually by mail if you feel more comfortable doing so, but it will take longer.

If you’re new to B.C., it’s recommended you apply as soon as possible, since your coverage might start approximately three months after you arrive. In the meanwhile, if you can afford it, it’s probably best to get yourself some private health insurance. The same thing applies if you’re moving from another province.

Related: Check out our article on online counseling if you're looking for platforms specializing in treating mental health.

Before you start your online application, we suggest you use either Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or the Apple Safari browser. Ensure you have a steady internet connection and have your documents on hand since you will be required to upload digital images of those to support your citizenship or immigration status.

MSP Premium Payment 

As of January 1, 2020, MSP premiums were officially eliminated and B.C. residents are no longer charged. However, enrollment for the Medical Services Plan is still mandatory for everyone in the province.

All MSP premium debts before this date are still payable, and you can pay any outstanding MSP premium you might owe either by mail, through your bank institution or directly at a government office.

You can learn more about how to pay your MSP premium online here.

MSP Benefits 

The MSP comes with a set of health care benefits for all B.C. residents. Check out what this provincial health insurance covers, and what doesn’t.

What’s Covered

This provincial insurance program was specifically created to pay for required medical services, so it makes sense that they cover any medically necessary services provided by doctors, physicians and midwives, including things like eye and dental examinations and even oral surgery (performed in a hospital).

MSP also covers you and pays for diagnostic and laboratory services. To be more specific, the MSP provides the following benefits:

  • Medically required services by a physician enrolled with MSP
  • Maternity care
  • Eye examinations provided by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
  • Diagnostic services when ordered by a registered physician, podiatrist, midwife, dental surgeon or oral surgeon.
  • Dental and oral surgery.
  • Orthodontic services related to congenital facial abnormalities.

What’s Not Covered

MSP doesn’t provide coverage for any of the following:

  • Any service that is deemed as not medically required.
  • Cosmetic surgery.
  • Routine eye examinations for anyone from 19 to 64 years old.
  • Hearing aids, eyeglasses, and other equipment.
  • Prescription drugs.
  • Massage therapy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and non-surgical podiatry services.
  • Preventive services.
  • Routinary medical examinations required for employment, life insurance, school or university, or immigration purposes.

RELATED: Find out more about EQ Virtual, a telehealth service that falls under MSP coverage.

MSP And Maple

You can still have access to MSP enrolled doctors even from home. Thanks to online health services such as Maple, you can schedule a “visit” in a matter of minutes, and see a doctor directly from your own house.

Note: Check out our article about Maple! You’ll find lots of useful information about this online health service, how to sign up for it, what does it include, and how to use it.

If you’re a British Columbia resident, you can enjoy the services provided by Maple and connect with doctors, and MSP will cover your visits! Keep in mind, MSP covered visits are available from 7 am to 9 pm PT during weekdays, and 8 am to 5 pm PT on weekends, and only for video visits.

To be able to do this, you must be registered on Maple and include your MSP card. It’s that easy, and everything is done through their website.

MSP-covered visits are available all seven days a week, between 7 am to 9 pm PT. To see an MSP general practitioner, you’ll have to:

  • Log in to Maple and click the “see a doctor” option, then simply select the MSP general practitioner button.
  • Describe your symptoms as best as you can or make sure to describe your medical request.
  • Wait for the app to match you with a local physician. You’ll hear from the doctor within an hour max, and then you’ll have your consultation over video chat.

With Maple, you can get advice, a proper diagnosis and treatment all in the same place, without having to leave your home. All you need is a steady internet connection, your phone or computer and that’s it.

In Summary

MSP provides excellent healthcare for B.C. residents, but falls short when it comes to telemedicine. If you're looking for a reliable telemedicine service for on-demand expert medical advice from the comfort of your own home, we strongly recommend Maple.

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