University of Victoria Grad Student Society

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Health & Dental

If you are a masters or doctoral student at the University of Victoria, this is your extended health and dental insurance plan.

If you are an undergraduate student (including JD [law] students), please visit





Important health and dental info

The GSS encourages members to create an on-line Blue Cross account with Caresnet, where you can submit claims, print temporary insurance cards, and keep track of your benefits.

To submit a claim by mail, use a claim form available on the PBC website or from the GSS Forms & PDFs page.

Please contact Joëlle Alice Michaud-Ouellet, the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc[at], if you need assistance. She can be reached by phone at 250-721-8816 or by email at gsoc[at] Her work days are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

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 Form & booklet downloads

All the Health & Dental forms can be downloaded from our Forms & PDFs page.


Who is assessed the fees?

All graduate students who are:

● Registered in 3.0 or more ON-CAMPUS units in September or January
● Registered as co-op students
● Registered in an ON-CAMPUS thesis or dissertation

Please note: OFF-CAMPUS (distance) students are not automatically included in the extended health or dental plans, but that full-time distance students may opt into the plans. The deadline for opt-ins is September 30th (or January 31st if you are a January start student).

The year of insurance coverage, like the academic year, runs from September 1 to August 31.

Graduate students are assessed insurance fees once per academic year, either in September or in January, depending when they start their program of study.

Students starting their program in May are not covered by the plan until the following September.

Please check your student account to confirm if you have been assessed health and dental fees.


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Opting Out

Only students with comparable alternate coverage may opt out of the health or dental plan.

The deadline to opt out is September 30 (or January 31 for January start students).

Opt-outs must be renewed every year.

The deadline to opt out depends on when you start your program. Students have until the last day of their first month of registration into a program to opt out of the extended health and dental plans. Following the first year of entry in a program, opt-outs need to be renewed every September until graduation.

Students who sign up with UVIC Accounting Services to pay their tuition in monthly installments need to opt out before September 15 to ensure their monthly tuition installments are calculated correctly.

Please visit the GSS General Office to fill an opt-out form and submit proof of having comparable alternate insurance coverage. Examples include:

• Extended health and dental plan cards provided by your insurance company.
• A letter from your insurance company on letterhead, explaining both Extended Health and Dental plans and including all relevant policy, group, or certificate numbers.
• A letter from your employer on a company letterhead, outlining both Extended Health and Dental coverage, including the name of the insurance company and all relevant policy, group, or certificate numbers.

If you can't make it to our office during business hours, in September an online opt-out option is available. You will need your plan information and your student number (V#) to fill out the form.

There is no online opt out option available for January start students.

Opt-outs are permitted within 30 days of a change of status. If you acquire new comparable alternate coverage at any point during the school year, come see us within 30 days of that change. 

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Family and Distance Student (Off Campus Student) Opt-In

Full-time distance students may opt-in to the plans during their first month of registration into a program (usually September, except for those starting in January).

All students who are covered by the plans may also add their family during this same opt-in period.

Distance students who wish to enrol both themselves and their families must complete both a distance opt-in AND a family opt-in.

Coverage expires each August 31, and opt-ins must be renewed each year in September.

Please visit our General Office to fill the Distance Student Opt-In Form and/or Family Opt-In Form, as appropriate, and pay the insurance premiums directly to the GSS.


Payment Options

Please contact Joëlle Alice Michaud-Ouellet, the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc[at] for details and exact pricing for your situation.

In person

• Cash

• Debit

• Cheque *payable to "UVIC Graduate Students' Society"

• Pre-authorized monthly instalments

The Pre-authorized Debit Agreement Form is available here. Payments are withdrawn from your account on the 15th of each month, however the first monthly payment must be made at the time of enrollment. 


From a distance

Interac e-transfer (Contact Joëlle Alice Michaud-Ouellet, the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc[at] to recieve detailed instructions.)

• By cheque

• Pre-Authorized Monthly instalments 

The Pre-authorized Debit Agreement Form is available here. Payments are withdrawn from your account on the 15th of each month, however the first monthly payment must be made by cheque or e-transfer at the time of enrollment.


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Extended Health and Dental Plan Fees

September fees for the 2017-18 year:

For students who are registered full-time, on-campus and charged with their September tution:
Health: $ 377
Dental: $ 226

For distance student and family opt-ins paid to the GSS in September:
Health $ 382
Dental $ 231

September distance student and family opt-ins are only available for September start students. Premiums must be paid to the GSS by September 30th.


January fees for the 2018 year:

For students who are registered full-time, on-campus and charged with their January tution:
Health: $ 226
Dental: $ 151

For distance student and family opt-ins paid to the GSS in January:
Health $ 231
Dental $ 156

January distance student and family opt-ins are only available for January start students. Premiums must be paid to the GSS by January 31st. 


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Appeals related to the GSS health and dental plan

Students may file an appeal in regards to an opt-in, opt-out, or fee assessment related to the GSS health and dental insurance.  The Appeals Committee assess the validity of appeals on the basis of two criteria: administrative unfairness and/or extenuating personal circumstances.

Terms of Reference of the GSS Health and Dental Appeals Committee can be found in the GSS policy manual, section 20.9, page 38.

Guidelines for decisions of the Health and Dental Appeal Committee can be found here [PDF].




About the GSS health and dental coverage

A student referendum directed the Graduate Students’ Society to establish an Extended Health and Dental Plan in 1999. Successive referendums have established the price and benefit levels of the plans. The plans are currently carried by Pacific Blue Cross, a non-profit insurance company. The benefit year is 12 months long, beginning September 1st each year and running through to August 31st. For new students beginning in January, a special pro-rated benefit year of 8 months is assessed. PLEASE NOTE: Just as with an employer provided plan, benefits roll over on the calendar year (December 31st). (For example, plan maximum of $250 for chiropractic services runs January 1st to December 31st).

For the best access to information on where your coverage stands, set up an account with CARESnet here: This will show you how much you and any dependents you have enrolled are eligible to claim today, when the benefit renews. You can also set up automatic deposit to your bank for claims that require mailing in receipts and access forms, print replacement cards and more.

Full coverage details are available via CARESnet. You can also pick up a benefit booklet, available at the GSS office.

The Extended Health Plan is tailored to meet the needs of graduate students. Beyond the basic health coverage of your provincial Medical Services Plan (MSP), your extended health plan provides coverage for many services including help with prescription drug costs, 60 days of out-of-country emergency medical coverage, vision and coverage for each eligible paramedical service (including physiotherapy, massage therapies, naturopathy, clinical psychology, and other services).

The Extended Health Plan does not replace the provincial MSP, nor do your GSS premiums cover your provincial MSP premiums. More information on BC MSP can be found at the BC MSP website. Further assistance with prescription drug costs may be available through the Pharmacare program, and the GSS recommends all students register for premium assistance and Fair Pharmacare to ensure you have maximum coverage. More information is available at



I've finished my degree. What now?

Students who are on the GSS Extended Helath and Dental Plan and subsequently graduate or permanently withdraw can either keep their coverage until the end of the plan year (August 31), or terminate their coverage and seek a refund of any unused premiums. Coverage will be terminated at the end of the term in which a member graduates, or within 30 days of leaving the country.  Members who will be completing their program and do not wish to continue their coverage should contact the GSS Office to discuss their options.

N.B. Please note that retroactive fee reversals that include health and dental premiums will cause cancellation of your plan retroactive to the term in which the premiums are removed.  See below for information on withdrawls for medical, compassionate or maternity leave.  Please contact the GSS if you are not sure how changes to your registration will affect your coverage.



I'm going on medical, compassionate or maternity leave. What are my options?

Students who are on temporary leave under the categories of "Compassionate/Medical Leave" and "Parental Leave" with the approval of Dean of Faculty of Graduate Studies are eligible for one complete coverage year subject to payment of GSS Extended Health and Dental fees, and GSS society fees. Proof of approved leave must be provided.



What about travel?

The GSS Extended Health Plan includes 60 days of out of country emergency medical coverage.

If you are travelling for the purposes of study, and the travel will extend beyond 60 days, please contact the GSS well in advance of travel to arrange to extend the limit of the out of country emergency medical coverage.

If you are travelling for pleasure (or non-school related travel) beyond 60 days, the GSS has negotiated a 20% discount on Blue Cross travel insurance packages for our members. Ask at the GSS office for details.

Note: You will need to have active Canadian provincial plan while you travel.

For international students, MSP will only cover out of BC for a maximum 6 months. Students who are out of BC for more than six months will need to explore options for private insurance coverage, such as AON.

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Practitioner Service Reasonable and Customary Limit

Insurance covers services of paramedical practitioners (i.e. massage, physio, chiropractor, accupuncture, etc) up to the reasonable and customary limit. The reasonably and customary limit is based on the current fee schedule for practitioners in BC, and indicates the maximum reimbursement you can expect from Blue Cross. The GSS strives to keep this list up to date. Current list of reasonable and customary limits is always available at

In addition, currently, Pacific Blue Cross limits members to a 100-day supply of blood glucose test strips. Within that supply, members can order an unlimited number of test strips.

On January 1, 2015, Pacific Blue Cross will introduce a Reasonable and Customary Limit of 3,000 test strips per member per calendar year. Members who can prove medical necessity will be granted a larger supply. 

Starting from January 1, 2015, Pacific Blue Cross is applying Reasonable and Customary Limits to certain high-cost specialty drugs where alternative government and/or patient assistance programs exist. Plan members will not be asked to pay out of pocket for these drugs. Costs will be offset by applicable assistance programs. 

For example, if a pharmacy charges more than the Reasonable and Customary Limit for one of these drugs, it can either absorb the difference or obtain funding form the applicable assitance program. Members prescribed high-cost speciality drugs can also ask their physicians about supplemental coverage options. 

Pacific BlueCross has launched pay-direct biling for extended health care providers in BC. Pay-direct makes it more convenient for members to claim for chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, naturopathy, podiatry, psychology, massage theory and vision care services. For detailed information, please refer to:

The Dental Plan provides 70% reimbursement on preventative and minor restorative dental services to a maximum of $750 per calendar year (Starting 2011 September). Please refer to the policy brochure (at the bottom of this page) for more details. We recommend that you seek pre-authorization before receiving any dental treatment valued at over $200.00.

Dental costs covered are also subject to the standard fee schedule. Please note that not all dentists charge the same rates. If cost is a concern, always ask your dentist if they charge according to the fee schedule and request a Pre-Approval from PBC.


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Pacific Blue Cross

You may find more member information and download claim forms from the Pacific Blue Cross website. Check Blue Advantage for discounts on vision care and medical purchases and CARESnet for on-line access to claims and benefit information. For more information, see the Pacific Blue Cross frequently asked questions.

PBC recently expand on electronic claims submission funtionality and service providers can electronically bill PBC on behalf of their patients. For more detailed information, please refer to



How can I save money on my prescription drugs?

We all shop around to find the best price on everything from houses to groceries, but did you know prescription drug prices can vary even between drug stores with the same name?

Pacific Blue Cross has a Pharmacy Compass tool that may help you get better value for your medications by comparing the average prices submitted to Pacific Blue Cross by different pharmacy locations across British Columbia.  It will tell you where to get your medications for the best price!

Access Pharmacy Compass here.



I am already covered by BC MSP, isn’t this enough?

All BC residents (including international students) must be covered by BC Medical Services Plan and have a care card. Provincial MSP covers your visits to the doctor and emergency treatment in hospital. Students from out of province may opt to stay on their home province medical plan. We encourage all students who qualify to apply for premium assistance to lower their MSP premiums (fees).

In BC, you will need to pay premiums for MSP covreage, which is based on family size and income. The monthly rates in 2014 are: $69.25 for one person; $125.5 for a family of two; $138.5 for a family of three or more.

To qualify for MSP premium assistance, you must, for the last 12 consecutive months, have been resident in Canada and a Canadian citizen or holder of permanent resident status (landed immigrant).

Provincial medical coverage does NOT cover dental work, vision or pharmaceuticals, and is not considered alternative coverage for those wishing to opt out of the GSS plan.

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I moved here from another province and am on my home province medical

Students studying out of province can maintain their home province medical plan for the duration of their studies. Students are usually required to contact their provincial medical plan office and notify them of their plan to study out of province (Some provinces will need some documents).  Not all coverage is the same between provinces, and some services are not provided.

Information from:

[Alberta ] [Saskachewan ] [Manitoba] [Ontario] [ Quebec ] [New Brunswick ] [Nova Scotia] [ Newfoundland & Labrador ] [PEI] [ NWT ] [Yukon] [Nunavut]

Coverage on most out of province medical plan is subject to a reciprocal billing agreement between provinces. The Reciprocal Billing Agreement allows students to use their home province medical card at the doctor or hospital out of province. Quebec is not a signatory to the reciprocal billing agreement.

Some coverage provided at home may not be provided outside the province and the student will have to pay up front. In some cases these services can be reimbursed by the home province. Information on coverage under reciprocal billing is difficult to find. Students are advised to ask their home province health isurance program if they have concerns. the Canadian Institute for Health Information provides the following summary of excluded coverage as of 2007:

Services Excluded Under the Interprovincial
Reciprocal Billing Agreement
The following list of services were excluded under the interprovincial agreements
for the reciprocal processing of out-of-jurisdiction medical claims, effective April 1, 1988:
• Surgery for alteration of appearance (cosmetic surgery).
• Sex-reassignment surgery.
• Surgery for reversal of sterilization, contraception and sterilization procedures.
• Therapeutic abortions.
• Routine periodic health examinations.
• In-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination.
• Acupuncture, acupressure, transcutaneous electro-nerve stimulation (TENS),
moxibustion, biofeedback, hypnotherapy.
• Services to persons covered by other agencies: RCMP, Armed Forces, Workers’
Compensation Board, Department of Veterans Affairs, Correctional Services of Canada
(Federal penitentiaries).
• Services requested by a third party.
• Routine circumcision of newborn.
• Psychoanalysis.
• Psychiatric or physiatric team conferences when patient is not present.
• Polysomnograms.
• Procedures still in the experimental/developmental phase.
• Genetic screening and other genetic investigations, including DNA probes.
• Anaesthetic services and surgical assistant services associated with all of the foregoing.

Effective April 1, 1989, the following additions and deletions were made to the above list
of excluded services:
• “Surgery for reversal of sterilization, contraception and sterilization procedures” was
changed to “Surgery for reversal of sterilization”.
• “Routine periodic health examinations” was revised to “Routine periodic health
examinations including routine eye examinations”.
• “Routine circumcision of newborn” was removed.
• “Psychoanalysis” was removed.
• “Psychiatric or physiatric team conference when patient is not present” was changed
to “Team conference(s)”.
• “Polysomnograms” was removed.

In August 1991, further additions included:
• Lithotripsy for gall bladder stones.
• The treatment of port-wine stains on other than the face or neck, regardless
of the modality of treatment.”

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Reciprocal Billing Report, Canada, 2004–2005, Revised August 2007
(Ottawa: CIHI, 2007). Retreived October 12, 2011 from:

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I am an international student

As MSP has three-month waiting period, UVIC has endorsed AON Reed Stenhouse Inc. (AON) as the provider for emergency medical coverage (emergency is defined as an unexpected sickness or injury that requires immediate medical treatment to relieve existing danger to life or health) for international students during the BC MSP three-month waiting period. For detailed information, please click here.

For more information please see Tia's advice on the importance of health insurance from the UVic Global Community Newsletter.




How are the health plan fees determined?

GSS Health and Dental plan fees are established by a referendum of all voting members of the GSS, after the GSS Executive has obtained quotes for various options in coverage. Fee referendums are usually held each Spring for the Health and Dental plan and determine plan cost and priorities.


Health and Dental Cards

Students beginning in September can get their cards as soon as the cards arrive at the GSS general office, usually mid- to late- October. Your coverage begins September 1st, but claims cannot be made until the enrolment list is final, so hang on to your receipts! Students starting in January can pick up their cards in mid February.

Contact the GSS by email: gsoc[at] or by phone: (250) 721-8816 for inquiries about enrolment, benefit coverage or claims problems.


Need a Doctor, Dentist, Naturopath, etc

The GSS cannot recommend doctors, dentists or other practitioners. We strongly recommend you ask other students in your department for recommendations.

Find a doctor
Find a dentist

Apply for MSP
Find a naturopath

Find an optometrist:

BC Association of Optometrists

BC Doctors of Optometry