University of Victoria Grad Student Society

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Jul 29, 2016 @ 12:28pm

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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 undergrad, (including JD [law] students) please visit



January-Start Graduate students wishing to opt-in family to the plan, or opt-out of the coverage with proof of alternate coverage, have until the January 31 opt-out/-in deadline.

January Start students include the following graduate students:

Read more about opting out of GSS Extended Health and Dental Coverage here.

To opt in as a distance student, or opt in family see more information here





Important health and dental info

The GSS encourages members to create an on-line Blue Cross account with Caresnet, where you can print temporary cards, view your spending to date, check when items with annual maximums renew to the maximum amount again. Info on Caresnet is here.

Please notify the GSS Health Plan Coordinator at gsoc[at] if you are having problems with your account.

Grad Student Claim forms are available at the PBC website, or from the GSS Forms & PDFs page.  

Please be aware that this is not the undergraduate plan, alumni plan, or UVIC staff plan.  If you are not working on a Masters or PhD, this is not the plan for you. Undergraduates, please visit the UVSS site.

The Health and Dental Plan Coordinator is Mr. Matthew Park. He can be reached by phone: 250-721-8816 or by email: gsoc[at]
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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

You will be assessed fees once per academic year (the academic year runs September-August). Students are not assessed in the Summer term, so students starting their program May-August are not assessed or covered by the plan until the following September.

Graduate students who live outside the Victoria area are usually registered in an OFF-CAMPUS section. Please note: OFF-CAMPUS (distance) students are not automatically included in the extended health or dental plans, but 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 entrance student. If you have questions or concerns about the registration process, contact the Graduate Admissions and Records Office at (250) 472-4657.

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Opting Out

Only students with alternate coverage may opt out of the health or dental plan. Opt-outs must be renewed every year, by the last day of the first month of your academic year (usually September 30). Please check your student account to confirm if you have been assessed health and dental fees. You could check your fees by sigining in with your netlink ID through your UVic MyPage.

The deadline to opt out depends on when you start your program each year. Students who start in September are charged annual health insurance premiums with their September tuition and must opt-out or -in (if necessary) by the September 30 deadline; they will not be charged again (or need to opt out) until the following September.  Those who start in January (or are charged in January because you were part time or off campus in the fall) will be assessed 8 months' (Jan-Aug) of premiums and will need to opt out by January 31; they will not be charged again (or need to opt out) until the following September.  Students are not assessed health and dental fees in May.

Additionally, students who sign up with UVIC Accounting Services to pay their tuition in monthly installments should opt out of the GSS Health and Dental Plan before September 15 to ensure their monthly tuition installments are calculated correctly.

To be exempted from one or both of the GSS Extended Health and Dental plans, please visit the GSS General Office and provide us with proof of your equivalent alternative extended health and/or dental 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.

Your opt-out must be renewed each September.

If you can't make it to our office during business hours (10am-4pm), in September an online opt out 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 outside of September.

If your situation changes or you acquire/lose coverage, come see us within 30 days of your situation changing.  Opt-ins and -outs are permitted within 30 days of a change of status.

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Family and Distance Student (Off Campus Student) opt in

Distance students may opt-in to the plans during the first month of their academic year (usually September, except for those starting in January); members may also add their family members during this same opt-in period.  Opt-ins must be renewed each year in September!

Please fill out the 2015 GSS family opt in form or the 2015-Distance student enrollment form (forms are also available at the GSS General Office). Payment (cash or cheque) must accompany your form. The cheque is made out to "UVIC Graduate Students' Society". Coverage expires each August 31, and therefore must be renewed each year by the deadline. Monthly installment option through Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD) with no additional administration fee is available, please consult the office.

Opt-in deadlines for Family and Distance students (Off campus student) are:
September 30th for September-start students
January 31st for January-start students

In cases of late enrolment, come see us within a month of your registration being finalised.

Pay for your opt in with monthly instalments
You may pay in monthly installments by automatic debit from your bank account. Payments are made on the 15th of each month. The first month's premium will be in the format of cash, cheque or debit card whenyou enrol in the plan.  It will be 46 dollars for both Extended Health and Dental ($27.75 for Extended Health and $18.25 for dental).  On the fifteen day of subsequent months the same amount will be withdrawn from your account. Please contact the GSS Health Plan coordinator at gsoc [at] for details and exact pricing for your situation. The Monthly Instalment Form is available at GSS office and here.

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Extended Health and Dental Plan Fees

The academic year runs from September 1 to August 31.  Students pay health plan fees only once per school year, in the first month of their academic year (September or January) -- these premiums provide coverage until August 31. No fees are assessed in May -- students beginning their program in May are not covered by the plan until they are assessed the following September.

September fees for the 2015-16 year:
Premiums (covering Sept 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016) for students who are registered full-time, on-campus are charged with your tution:
Health: $ 328
Dental: $ 214

Full-time Distance Students who are not charged premiums with their tuition can opt in to the plans at the following rate:
Health $ 333
Dental $ 219

The premiums for a family opt-in are the same as those for a distance opt-in ($333 + $219 = $552).

These fees can be paid at the GSS office by September 30 if a student wishes to complete a distance or family opt-in. Family opt-ins do not include the graduate student member; distance students who wish to enrol both themselves and their families must complete both a distance opt-in AND a family opt-in.  (The total cost would be $1104 dollars -- $552 for the distance student and $552 for his/her family.) 

Opt-in premiums can be paid at the GSS Office via cash, cheque, or debit card, or can be paid via monthly bank withdrawal.  (N.B.  We do not accept credit cards.)  Please inquire at the GSS Office for more information on how to pay by monthly instalment.

January fees for the 2016 year (Jan 1 - Aug 31):
Premiums (covering January 1 - August 31, 2016) for January-start students who are registered full-time, on-campus are charged with your tution:
Health: $ 219
Dental: $ 143

Premiums for full-time distance students (additional $368 for family opt-ins) (January-start Distance students only):
Health $ 222
Dental $ 146

These fees can be paid at the GSS office by January 31 if the student wishes and ONLY if the student started in January. A monthly instalment plan is available for opt ins.

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Appeals related to the GSS health and dental plan

The GSS observes a five business day grace period for opting out and opting in deadlines.

Students may file an appeal in regards to the opt in, opt out, or fee assessments related to the GSS health and dental insurance.  The Appeals Committee considers whether there is an instance of administrative unfairness or extenuating personal circumstances that warrant an appeal.

Terms of Reference of the GSS Health and Dental Appeals Committee can be found in the GSS policy manual, section 20.8, page 43.

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 to learn about other free options for coverage. Please detailed information, please refer to the PBC Out of Country Policy and PBC Out of Country 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

(New Pacific Blue Cross reasonable and customary limits as of October 1, 2013)

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.

Starting from 2012 September 01, E-Claims is effective. You will be able to find the information on how to submit an Electronic claim through PBC website and benefit booklet. 

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