How Do I Access Government Funded Health Care in British Columbia?
One of the advantages of living in Canada is the ability to use the Universal Health Care program that has been in place in the country for decades. This initiative is paid for by the various levels of government through tax dollars, and alleviates many of the expenses involved with health care, such as the cost of a visit to the doctor or the hospital, various operations, prescriptions, and so on.
Although the program is called universal health care, it is important to note that in reality it is carried out from province to province. In large part this is due to the traditional Quebec medical system; as a result of the difference each province has its own way of administering and qualifying citizens for the program.
In British Columbia, you must register for the Medical Services Plan in order to access government-funded health care. Once registered, you will receive a personal health care card with your health care number on it; this card and number are vital when using any medical services in the province, from hospital visits to doctor’s visits.
There are several ways to gain a personal health care number and card.
Individuals born in the province are automatically registered through their hospital, and receive a card in the mail.
Those who move to BC from another province must register to receive their card and number. This may be done through your union or through your job, in which case the office should be contacted. Otherwise, you need enrol yourself through a British Columbia government office or on the BC government’s website.
Some individuals may qualify under the Health Canada act or the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance, in which case those offices need to be contacted.
In order to qualify, you will have to prove that you are a resident of the province. This means including all documentation supporting citizenship or immigration.
In order to be deemed eligible, a person must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, must make her or his home in BC, and live in the province at least six months in each calendar year. Any dependants of a BC resident are automatically covered under the resident’s plan.
It is worth noting that while MSP takes most of the cost out of health services, many individuals will have to pay premiums each month if not covered through their employers. The premiums will depend on income level and need and are calculated on a monthly basis.
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