Ending the student health-care hierarchy

International students eligible for provincial medicare

On Oct. 6, the province of New Brunswick announced that post-secondary international students now have access to provincial medicare coverage. Before the changes, international students at Mt. A were required to purchase the $650 International Student Medical Coverage from the MASU. Provincial medicare means the international students can save money and avoid the complexities of activating a specific insurance.

The move makes NB the eighth province to offer health care to international students. Universities in Ontario and Quebec, which make up over 50 per cent of the international student population in Canada, still do not offer provincial health care.

If international students students want to receive a health card, they now need to apply at Service New Brunswick with a proof of enrollment, a valid study permit and their date of arrival in the province.

These changes to health care have the potential to ease the barriers international students face when accessing services. In the former MASU insurance system, in addition to paying $650, students had to activate their insurance online and get their cards printed.

“Imagine the people whose first language is not English,” said Saurabh Kulkarni, a fourth-year international student. “Accessing these websites can be very difficult.… and some people might not feel comfortable talking in English to someone they barely know.”

“I think what this does is on a civic level, it helps reducing boundaries between the other, with international students being the other, and domestic students because now you have an equal access to health care,” said Kulkarni.

Changes to N.B.’s medicare coverage equalize student health-care access. Louis Sobol/Argosy

International student advisor Claire Kelly underlines that these changes will impact Mt. A and NB in a positive way. “There are many extra costs associated with being an international student, such as higher tuition, expensive flights home and paying for basic medicare – so relieving one of those extra costs will help to ease that financial load,” said Kelly.

The new medicare coverage does not replace the MASU extended health plan and dental plan. International students wanting to opt-out of MASU international student medical coverage will need to receive their card and bring it to the MASU office by Dec. 15 to receive a refund in the winter term.

In a news release by the province, Benoit Bourque, N.B. health minister, said, “Our government knows that the availability and delivery of health services have a significant impact on the quality of life of the people of our province. We are proud to be able to extend health care coverage to international students and provide them with the same level of health care that their peers enjoy in Canada.”

The new system does require a trip to Service New Brunswick, but international students now save $650 per year in insurance fees and get a regular health card.

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