International students in B.C. will still pay for health care after MSP fees are eliminated
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks in Vancouver's West End in this 2018 file photo.
When provincial health care premiums are eliminated for British Columbians next year, one group will see their out-of-pocket costs go up instead of down.
International students at post-secondary institutions in the province currently pay reduced Medical Service Plan fees of $37.50 per month, the same amount that is currently charged to all British Columbia residents earning more than $42,000 per year.
On Jan. 1, when MSP premiums are eliminated, the health care coverage fee for international students will increase to $75 per month.
The provincial government has been phasing out MSP fees for the last two years. Earlier this year, it introduced the Employer Health Tax -- a payroll tax that will help replace the revenue the province loses by eliminating MSP premiums.
The increased fees on international students are a way to keep them in the health care system and ensure that they contribute to their coverage, the Ministry of Health said in a release.
B.C. has been providing health care coverage to international students since 1992. In its release, the ministry noted that Ontario and Quebec are the provinces with the largest number of international students in Canada, and neither of them provide coverage for such students under their provincial health care plans.
"For almost 30 years, B.C. has provided international students with provincial health coverage, while asking them to contribute a reasonable amount to help cover those costs," said Minister of Health Adrian Dix, announcing the change. "This updated payment method for international students continues that commitment."
International students in post-secondary schools will begin paying $75 per month on Sept. 1 of this year. At that time, international students in kindergarten through grade 12 will begin paying $37.50 per month. International students in those grades have not been required to pay MSP premiums since January 2017.
On Jan. 1, all international students, regardless of grade, will be required to pay $75 per month for health care coverage.