The Department of Health and Wellness is updating its regulations to allow international students with a study permit and individuals with work permits to be absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days without losing their Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) coverage; including their spouses and dependents. The changes will be operational on December 19, 2022.
Nova Scotia Health Cards for International students currently indicate “VALID IN NS ONLY”. Your current Health Card will remain valid, however if you are an international student and will be travelling outside of Nova Scotia before your Health Card expires and wish to obtain a replacement card, please contact MSI at 1-800-563-8880 by 31 January 2023, to request a replacement card free of charge.
Moving to Nova Scotia from within Canada
If you are a Canadian or "Permanent Resident" moving permanently to Nova Scotia from another part of Canada, coverage will generally begin on the first day of the third month following the date you established residency here. For example, if you established residency in Nova Scotia on September 27th, Nova Scotia would provide coverage on December 1st. Contact your previous province to ensure your coverage is maintained until your Nova Scotia MSI coverage begins.
If you are married/common-law and your spouse did not move at the same time, but will be joining you within 12 months of your arrival date, Nova Scotia coverage for both would begin the first day of the third calendar month following the arrival of your spouse in the province.
The waiting period for Medical Services Insurance (MSI) coverage is waived for military families (the spouse and dependants of a CAF member) moving to Nova Scotia. The CAF member is not eligible.
Military families who have recently moved to Nova Scotia are eligible for MSI coverage on the date they establish residency in Nova Scotia. Family members should apply for MSI coverage within 3 months of arriving. Once issued, health cards are effective immediately.
Moving to Nova Scotia from outside Canada
If you're a returning Canadian Citizen or a returning "Permanent Resident" moving permanently to Nova Scotia from outside Canada, MSI will provide first day coverage.
People moving to Nova Scotia from outside the country, who hold a Work Permit or Employment Contract that is valid for a minimum of 12 months upon their arrival are eligible to apply for MSI when they arrive in Nova Scotia, provided they have signed a declaration. Coverage will begin on the date of arrival in Nova Scotia or the date the Work Permit or employment contract was issued, whichever is the later date. For continuous coverage, a copy of the renewed Work Permit or employment contract must be submitted and a new declaration form must be signed each year. Dependants who are legally entitled to remain in Canada will be granted coverage on the same basis as the worker.
People coming to Nova Scotia from outside the country who hold a Study Permit that is valid for a minimum of 12 months can apply for coverage the first day of the thirteenth month following the date of arrival in Nova Scotia as a student; a student arriving in Nova Scotia in July cannot apply until August of the following year. For continuous coverage, a copy of each Study Permit must be submitted to MSI and a declaration must be signed each year.
Dependent Children under the age of 19 are granted coverage on the same basis as their parents once the applicant has gained entitlement.
Effective 1 July 2006 persons on work permits will be covered for short term absences from Nova Scotia.
If you are a non-Canadian parent to a baby born in Nova Scotia, your newborn may be eligible for coverage. Contact MSI directly for more information on your child's eligibility.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) family members (the spouse and dependants of a NATO member) who have recently moved to Nova Scotia may be eligible to apply for Medical Services Insurance (MSI) coverage on the date residency is established in Nova Scotia.
NATO members themselves, and the families of United States of America (USA) NATO members, are not eligible for MSI.
If you are a Canadian or permanent resident leaving Nova Scotia to establish permanent residence elsewhere in Canada, your MSI coverage is valid until the last day of the second month following your date of arrival in the new province. For example, if you arrive in the new province on September 27th , your MSI coverage ends November 30th. In a family situation, if one spouse moves before the other, coverage is extended until the later spouse arrives in the new province. That date will determine the termination date for all family members. The maximum extension is twelve months. You should contact the Registration Department with your new address and the date you will be leaving the province. In addition, you should register for benefits in your new province of residence immediately upon arrival.
If you leave Nova Scotia to establish permanent residence outside of Canada your MSI coverage is valid until the day you leave Canada.
Leaving Nova Scotia Temporarily
Once deemed a resident for MSI coverage and ordinarily present (physically present in Nova Scotia for 183 days in every calendar year), you may retain coverage while temporarily absent for up to one year, provided you intend to return permanently to Nova Scotia.
Your MSI Coverage may be continued if you do not meet the physically present requirement, if you are:
Travel to other Canadian provinces
If you have moved to Nova Scotia from outside Canada, you will not be eligible for a temporary absence until you have resided in Nova Scotia:
If you will be temporarily absent from the province for more than three months (short term absences under 30 days are not monitored), you should contact the MSI Registration Department at 902-496-7008 or 1-800-563-8880 (toll free in Canada) or email@example.com advising:
However, if your eligibility is in question, the Department of Health and Wellness/MSI have the authority to review total absences from Nova Scotia and request a residency declaration to be completed.
If you are traveling within Canada, all provinces have signed an Interprovincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement (except Quèbec for physician services). If you show your current provincial Health Card to the provider for medically necessary insured services, the claims will be paid by the host province. They will be reimbursed by your home province. If you are required to pay the attending physician please submit your itemized receipt to MSI for consideration.
If you are traveling outside Canada for a short period of time MSI will provide coverage for emergency medical services only.
1. Out-of-country in-patient hospitalization as the result of an accident or sudden illness while temporarily absent from Canada, is covered in Canadian funds. The current rate for emergency in-patient services is $525CDN. Per day plus 50% of ancillary fees incurred while an in-patient. Physician Services, as the result of an accident or sudden illness during a temporary absence from Canada are covered in Canadian funds at Nova Scotia rates.
2. The following services are not payable under the MSI program.
The balance of an account after payment by the Department may be quite large. It is strongly recommended that any resident traveling out of province purchase a Travel Health Plan for the period of absences to cover these balances and other insured services.
Ambulance Services rendered outside Nova Scotia are not subsidized and are therefore the patients responsibility.
All claims must be received by the department /MSI for payment within six months of the date of the discharge from the hospital to be eligible for payment. No claims received after the lapse of six months will be considered.
All physician claims should be sent to P.O. Box 500 , Halifax NS B3J 2S1.
Any questions, please contact MSI at 902-496-7008 or toll free in Canada at 1-800-563-8880.
It is strongly recommended that you purchase travel insurance when you travel outside of the province or country.
If you require medical care while traveling, you will be responsible for non-insured services. You will also be responsible to pay the difference between the charge for the insured service and the amount that MSI pays for the service (Nova Scotia rates).
Referrals for out-of-province treatment
Nova Scotians who are referred outside the province to receive medical or clinical treatment are eligible for coverage under the province’s out-of-province services plan.
This type of funding can apply to a breadth of treatments, including mental health and addictions, eating disorders, certain transplant surgeries, and other specialized treatments, cancer included.
The province has a process in place to consider funding out-of-province treatments:
Referrals outside Canada for treatment
If you are a Nova Scotia resident and require medically necessary treatment unavailable in Canada, your referring Nova Scotia specialist must submit a request to the MSI Medical Consultant for prior approval. For travel and accommodation assistance, prior approval is required from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness before accessing out-of-country treatment. Information on the province's travel and accommodations assistance policy. All medically necessary services provided on an in-patient or out-patient basis will be insured at 100%.
Ancillary programs such as the Children's Oral Health Program and the Pharmacare Programs are not insured outside of the province. If you plan to leave Nova Scotia or Canada, for an extended period, please contact MSI before you leave, so we can clarify your eligibility status and the extent of coverage 902-496-7008 or 1-800-563-8880 (toll free in Canada).
Have questions regarding MSI eligibility? Call 1-800-563-8880 (Toll free in Canada )