Health & Dental FAQ

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.