How Healthcare Works When You Leave Canada

If you are reading this because you are actually interested in the information (and not just an indulgent friend), please see this update!

What this post lacks in interest it makes up for in valuable information for other Canadians who are (thinking about) moving from Canada and wondering about healthcare options.

Please learn from my mistake.

Before I moved, I registered myself as permanently leaving British Columbia. I did this so that I wouldn’t have to pay the $69.25/month Medical Services Plan premium. My salary here is half of what I made back home and MSP felt like a steep price to pay when I also pay a fee in Kazakhstan for health coverage through my workplace.

When you leave British Columbia, if you do not declare yourself as permanently moved:

There are options for people having trouble making MSP payments:

  • You can apply for hardship with MSP as long as the hardship is unforseeable (not valid for me because a planned move is rather forseeable).
  • You can apply for premium assistance, based on your salary from the previous tax year (not an option for me because it wouldn’t take my current low salary into account).

It all seemed fine since I have coverage through my current workplace but then I started looking into travel insurance for the three months I’ll be travelling after I leave my job. There are no travel insurance or healthcare coverage options for non-resident Canadians unless they are a permanent resident of another country, or they have travel insurance coverage through their workplace.

To purchase travel insurance, you must be a permanent resident somewhere. For example, to list Canada as your country of permanent residency, you must be registered with MSP within your province. For British Columbia, if you’ve declared yourself as permanently moved, you can only regain MSP coverage by moving back to BC for six months (you can purchase insurance for the time period before MSP kicks in). I am not a permanent resident of Kazakhstan and I will of course not be covered by my workplace once I leave and so I am not eligible for travel insurance.

Basically, from the time I leave my employment in Kazakhstan, until six months after I move back to British Columbia or gain employment in a different country with a workplace that provides medical coverage, I have no medical coverage options. I’m kicking myself because it was reasonable to assume that I’d be travelling after my contract and possibly not moving back to BC and so I should’ve continued my MSP payments.

My last hope is in talking with World Nomads but it’s not looking promising.

Lesson learned: if you’re moving from Canada (specifically BC), do not register yourself as permanently moving if:

  • You are not a permanent resident of another country.
  • You are not getting healthcare coverage through your workplace.
  • You get healthcare coverage through your workplace but you plan on travelling once your contract is finished.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue drinking my tears from this delightful mug I purchased on Saturday.


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