MSP coverage not extended to everyone in BC despite promise

MSP promised, never given

The B.C. Health Coalition is disappointed to announce MSP coverage for hospital services related to COVID-19 treatment was not expanded to everyone in the province during the peak of the pandemic, as promised.

Since March 24, the MSP resource site has stated that “if you are present in B.C. and would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP, you will be provided provincially insured health care coverage for services related to, suspected, or confirmed cases of infection with COVID-19.”

The B.C. Health Coalition, along with health care workers and public health experts, celebrated this important policy decision affecting temporary foreign workers, international students and uninsured patients in the province.

However, it has since been confirmed the government is not planning on covering hospital bills incurred before May, contrary to the original commitment outlined in the Medical Services Plan Response to COVID-19. 

Since the borders closed, individuals visiting Canada temporarily and migrants not eligible for MSP coverage who have contracted coronavirus and required hospital treatment have been issued staggering bills for hospital stays.

In one case, a man whose father recently died of COVID-19 was given a hospital bill of $200,000.

“I wish this correction was not necessary," says Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist at UBC leading a national research effort to improve clinical management of COVID-19. 

"When the policy was first announced, it provided comfort and assurance that no one would be left without necessary protection against the pandemic ... billing individuals at their most vulnerable, when there was a clear commitment not to, will sow confusion and distrust and may lead to many people avoiding essential care.”

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