Free health insurance for international students

As of April 1, international students in Manitoba will be eligible to get free health insurance.

In 2011, Government of Manitoba announced that international students will be covered under the provincial health care plan and will not need to buy a separate insurance anymore.

A seminar took place on March 12th at the University of Manitoba outlining how the transition from a paid insurance to Manitoba Health coverage will occur for international students .

International students are eligible for Manitoba Health coverage if they have a valid study permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for a minimum of six months and live in the province for a minimum of six months in a calendar year.

Spouses and children of eligible international students are also covered if they have a visitor visa or if they are listed on the study permit and live in Manitoba for six months, minimum.

Manitoba Health will cover international students for “visits to their health care provider, surgery and diagnostic tests.”

If the student is hospitalized, Manitoba Health will cover: “accommodation and meals at the standard level, nursing services, diagnostic and lab tests, medications given in the hospital, costs associated with surgery (including anaesthesia and surgical supplies), occupational, speech, physiotherapy and dietary counselling.”

Neil Marnoch, the registrar of U of M, whose office provides private insurance to international students, encouraged students to apply for their Manitoba Health card as soon as possible, “to ensure coverage is in place as of that date.”

He also applauded the UMSU for their efforts in lobbying for this change.

Marnoch said that the registration forms can be printed from www.manitoba.ca/health/mhsip and submitted in person or mailed to Manitoba Health’s Registration and Client Services at 300 Carlton Street.

He added that students not taking summer courses will be covered, “as long as the study permit is valid.”

International students who are in co-op programs outside Manitoba will be covered as well.

“However, students have to notify Manitoba Health,” he said.

Marnoch encouraged all international students to visit Manitoba Health’s website to get more information.

Julie Rempel, UMSU vice president (external), said that it was important for students to know that they are now covered under Manitoba Health.

She said the free health coverage for international students will reduce their stress.

Rempel said UMSU has been lobbying for the change for a long time.

“U of M, along with University of Winnipeg, Brandon University and University of St. Boniface provided letters of support and that was a huge push for us to get here today,” she said.