International students have two additional costs imposed on them, and TSSU members can get up to 100% of these costs covered when they are working by following this guide:
- Guard.me health program (85% of these costs can be covered for up to 2 people)
- International Student Health Fee for MSP (100% of these costs can be covered including for spouses and depdendents!)
SFU didn’t agree to pay for either of these willingly. In both cases it took grievances and organizing. However each year they provide hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to international student TAs, TMs, GFs, and SIs. We still need to fight to get all TSSU members, including RAs covered too.
TSSU members and allies bring a $350,000 bill to then SFU President Petter to demand the University cover the International Student Health Fee for MSP
Basic Medical Coverage:
Guard.me is a private insurance plan contracted by SFU that provides coverage before international students are eligible for BC MSP. However, all incoming international students are automatically enrolled in this expensive plan for their first semester, even if they don’t need it.
covers medically required services. By law, all BC residents are required to enroll in BC MSP. Coverage begins at the start of the third calendar month after your arrival (e.g. if you arrive in BC at any time in August, MSP coverage begins on November 1). If you hold a current TSSU appointment, you can enroll in SFU’s group MSP coverage and SFU will pay your MSP premiums. As of 2020, these premiums are now branded as the “International Student Health Fee” or ISHF. Note that your application will be back-dated to the start of the month in which you apply (i.e. SFU will cover MSP back to that date only).
Be sure to maintain an up-to-date study permit and to submit those documents to SFU (if in the group plan) or Health Insurance BC (if you are on a individual plan).
How to opt-out of Guard.me
Once you arrive in BC you are eligible to enroll in BC MSP. Coverage begins at the start of the third calendar month after your arrival (e.g. if you arrive in BC at any time in August, MSP coverage begins on November 1). SFU has introduced a mandatory insurance plan for international students called Guard.me, which shows up on your student fees. You can get some of those fees back; here’s how:
If you have an active TSSU appointment:
SFU will pay 100% of your MSP premiums if you hold a current TSSU appointment and apply for enrollment in the SFU group plan at the start of that term. Your application will be back-dated to the first of the month in which you apply.
- Complete the MSP Group Enrolment form
NOTE: A separate application form must be completed for the TSSU member and each eligible dependent. Do not list dependents on the same application as the member.
- Scan as a single pdf document:
– the completed application form(s)
– a copy of the Study Permit for each individual
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org; include legal name of TSSU member and SFU ID number in the Subject line. If this is your first semester at SFU, you are likely enrolled in Guard.me, and should say: “I am enrolled in Guard.me” in the email.
Indicating you are enrolled in Guard.me will cause SFU to:
- reimburse you 85% of the cost of Guard.me for the months you were in it, at the end of the month in which your MSP takes effect; and
- send you a letter which you can use as proof to opt-out of Guard.me
You will then need to upload the letter to www.guard.me/sfu to complete the opt-out process and potentially receive an additional refund.
Timing of opt-out
To get your maximum refund you only need to ensure you opt-out by the time your MSP coverage becomes effective (e.g. if you arrive in August, complete the opt-out by the end of October) so that you are not in two plans at one time. The first month (e.g. Sept 30) opt-out deadline is only for those who do not need the Guard.me coverage at all, for example because they are not in the country or are already in MSP.
If you are not in a TSSU appointment:
You will need to complete an individual enrollment in MSP form (form 102), along with any required documentation.
If you are an international student enrolled in Guard.me: following the submission and processing of your form (typically a few weeks), contact Health Insurance BC (HIBC) at 1-800-663-7100 and request a letter confirming your enrollment. Once you receive this letter, upload it at www.guard.me/sfu to opt-out and receive a refund. If you receive your MSP card before the letter arrives, you may use that instead to opt-out.
Basic medical coverage does not cover all healthcare costs. Dental care, vision care, physiotherapy, mental health care, and more are all privately provided under BC’s Medical System. Extended Health Care plans covered some of those costs and there are two plans.
GSS Plan: (ihaveaplan) A private plan run by the GSS that is charged to your student fees. This covers extended health, dental, and vision care. You may elect to opt-out if you have an alternative extended health care provider. For coverage info see the GSS page.
TSSU Plan: (Pacific Blue Cross) A private plan run by SFU that TSSU members may opt into. SFU covers part of the cost of this plan while you have an active TSSU appointment. See here for more details.