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CUAET guides pt.3: How to apply for MSP medical insurance in BC or get emergency medicines coverage

This blog contains the unedited posts of Ukrainians who successfully moved to Victoria, BC, and/or their hosts. Content posted with permission. For privacy we are keeping them anonymous. The opinions expressed in the blog are those of the author and are neither supported nor endorsed by the moderators of this website.

Hi everyone,
Now some useful information on medical insurance and urgent medicines coverage. These program names and links are specific to British Columbia, but other provinces have something similar in place.

  1. To get medical insurance coverage for your visits to doctors, tests, prescribed medicines, medical procedures, and so on, you should apply for your province’s medical insurance right after you validate your work permit. I don’t know the procedure for those who did not apply for a work permit. See this guide to learn how to validate your work permit:
    https://ukrainehelpvi.ca/useful-information-for-spreading-among-cuaet-ppl-pt-2/
    During the initial visit to an accredited doctor from https://secure.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx – mention any chronic or acute diseases that you urgently need medicines for and ask for a referral to a specialist doctor.
    It may cost you around 260 CAD in total to compete the medical exam and tests for work permit validation; some people say that the x-ray may be free at some places. These fees can only be paid by card, Ukrainian Visa and Mastercard credit cards work fine in Canada. These fees are not covered by any funds or the government. You may give someone around cash and ask them to pay for you by card, many Canadian people are very supportive. It may take between 1-2 days and 1-2 weeks to pass this three-step medical examination, depending on your location and the lines for the appointments.
  2. Even before you get the medical tests. In British Columbia, the insurance program is called Medical Insurance Plan (MSP). It is also known as the PHN number. Generally, it takes around 5 minutes to apply for MSP BC online here: https://my.gov.bc.ca/msp/enrolment/check-eligibility If you are staying in BC, just open the link and follow the steps. Make a photo of your work permit sheet (a colourful one with snowflakes watermarks that you got from an immigration officer at your arrival airport) in advance to upload it, this application form must be completed within 15 minutes or you’ll have to start anew.
    In the form, you should also specify a valid Canadian phone number and a valid Canadian postal address (could be a hotel or a temporary place of living with a host). After submitting it, you’ll get a notification that your request will be processed within 21 days. So, within 21 days you’ll receive a card with your MSP (PHN) number, which is also known as the “Health Card”. This card is also the BC Services card used for some other procedures, besides your MSP (PHN) number it also has your BC Serivces ID number printed on it.

    You do not need to wait to receive the card to make use of your MSP health insurance. See see this blog entry for more details about MSP/PHN and medical services access: https://ukrainehelpvi.ca/cuaet-guides-pt-7-how-to-access-medical-services-in-victoria-bc/

Some CUAET people in British Columbia and their close relatives with serious chronic or acute diseases may also require emergency medicines coverage, then you may apply for PharmaCare BC support before they get the BC Medical Services Plan. The steps for that:

  1. Make sure to apply for Medical Services Plan in advance anyway.
  2. Print out the form https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/forms/5408fil.pdf from BC gov’t website, make several copies of the blank form if it’s several medicines or several people in your family who urgently require medicines. The form is only in English, and the instructions will soon be available in Ukrainian and Russian https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/who-we-cover/ukrainian-cuaet-arrivals
  3. Make an appointment with a specialist Canadian doctor that should know your disease well, you may find one using Google search or this system https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-services/search-services-your-area
    You may or may not need to pay for the visit to the doctor, if you pay the sum should be reimbursed by insurance later, as far as I know. Note that this doctor may consider the English or French translations of your medical papers from Ukraine or elsewhere, but these have zero legal power in Canada and even the simplest medicines here like a diuretic pill, a blood pressure lowering pill, a mild soothing pill. or a sleep pill which are cheap and commonly used in Ukraine will most probably require a prescription in Canada.
  4. Get the required medicines prescription(s) from the doctor and ask them to fill out the printed form.
  5. Go to a drugstore (pharmacy), you may find one using Google search or this system https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-services/search-services-your-area Bring the filled form and the prescription(s) from a Canadian doctor and ask for the prescribed medicines. The pharmacist/apothecary should do the rest to register the case with Pharmacare and give your medicines at no cost. If they are not aware of the program, ask them to consult PharmaCare by phone for the details https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/contact-us
  6. A common insurance plan for suitable for many CUAET newcomers is Pharmacare Fair, it is linked to the level of income in Canada. If you earn little or nothing, you get more coverage.
    Make sure to collect and submit all prescriptions for all medicines you require within 48 hours after the initial one; this window may get expanded soon.
    Note that only eligible medicines are covered (e.g. no homeopathic BS) and in some cases it might be only partial coverage.
  7. There is also a PharmaCare option for urgent psychiatric medicines, Plan B, the application procedure is the same, the instructions are also here https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/who-we-cover/ukrainian-cuaet-arrivals
  8. Be healthy and happy in Canada!

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