Welcome to Refugee Health - Vancouver

Refugee Health Vancouver is a practical resource to support clinicians who provide care to refugees in British Columbia.

Need a patient handout on diabetes in Farsi? Looking for a Spanish-speaking dentist in Vancouver who offers reduced fees? Not sure what convention refugees are, why they would flee Myanmar, or how you can bill to care for them? This site pulls together the answers for you.

For comments, suggestions and corrections please contact us.

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MSP and Pharmacare

Medical Services Plan (MSP) Coverage

Government assisted and privately sponsored refugees who settle in BC are eligible to apply for MSP immediately upon arrival. Refugee claimants can apply once they have a work permit and meet the residency requirements.

Enrolment is not automatic.  This form must be completed and sent to Health Insurance BC with copies of each individual’s immigration documents. For GARs who are in the Resettlement Assistance Program, settlement workers through Immigration Services Society of BC help individuals apply for MSP coverage, typically when GARs are living at Welcome House in their first few weeks in Canada. Sponsors are responsible for assisting privately sponsored refugees with registration. Call HIBC at 1‑800‑663-7100 and ask for an enrolment specialist with any questions.

There is no mandatory wait time for MSP for refugees, but the processing time is approximately 8-12 weeks. In extenuating circumstances (e.g. pregnancy, HIV) a phone call can expedite the process.

IFH, if active, provides health insurance while the patient waits for MSP to come into effect. For some refugees, after MSP is activated, IFH still covers the cost of supplemental services (such as dental and vision care) and prescription drugs for one year.

Refugee Claimants who hold work permits must keep their work permits active in order to continue to qualify for MSP.  They do not receive a physical MSP card but rather are given a PHN. 

Pharmacare

PharmaCare provides eligible British Columbia residents with the costs of some prescription drugs and designated medical supplies.

PharmaCare coverage is potentially available once refugees have MSP coverage, and requires a separate application.

A patient with IFH coverage (i.e. for the first year in Canada) is not eligible for Pharmacare, even if they have MSP. A Pharmacare application must be filed at the end of the first year. Refugee patients need to be directed to do this, by their settlement worker, sponsor or primary care provider.

Registration for PharmaCare can be done in two ways: 

  1. Online 
  2. By phone with Health Insurance BC at 1-800-663-7100 from 8am - 8pm Mon-Fri or 8am - 4pm Sat.

Refugees who have not yet filed a tax return with the Canadian government are still eligible for PharmaCare if they meet income requirements.

To determine whether a patient with MSP is registered for Pharmacare, enter the PHN here: 

Translated patient handouts on how to apply for Fair Pharmacare here.


Reviewed/updated by Martina Scholtens MD CCFP (January 13, 2016)

Patient Handouts

Translated educational handouts on health issues.

Other Patient Handout Catalogues

Settlement (Orientation, Screening, Legal)

Child Health & Parenting, Other Patient Handout Catalogues

Anemia

Mental Health

Women's Health & Pregnancy

General Medical

Diabetes, Nutrition & Lifestyle

Child Health & Parenting

Diabetes, Nutrition & Lifestyle, Anemia

Infectious Disease

Diabetes, Nutrition & Lifestyle, Women's Health & Pregnancy

Community Resources

Dentists, physiotherapists and other community resources who speak other languages, accept IFH or offer reduced fees.

Pharmacy
Cross cultural mental health
Midwifery
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement, Legal, Parenting, Cross cultural mental health
Optometry
Parenting
Parenting
Settlement, Cross cultural mental health
Parenting
Podiatry + orthotics
Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy
Parenting
Disability
Disability
Dentistry
Settlement, Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy
Settlement
Legal
Recreation
Recreation
Physiotherapy
Legal
Lab/radiology
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement
Settlement
Pharmacy
Cross cultural mental health
Physiotherapy
Settlement, Parenting, Cross cultural mental health
Settlement
Physiotherapy
Pharmacy
Physiotherapy
Podiatry + orthotics
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Legal
Recreation
Recreation
Legal
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement, Legal
Cross cultural mental health
Physiotherapy
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement
Settlement
Pharmacy
Cross cultural mental health
Physiotherapy
Parenting
Cross cultural mental health
Settlement, Legal
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Cross cultural mental health
Pharmacy

Cultural Profiles

An overview of the main countries from which Canada receives refugees, with a focus on political and health issues.