International Student FAQ: Health Insurance & Accessing Health Care Services

As an international student at CBU, you will receive health insurance through Guard.me (while in Canada). Prior to your arrival in Nova Scotia, there are a number of health care precautions and routine processes you should take into conversation. Please see a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below that will provide further information related to health insurance coverage that will help you prepare for your arrival.

GUARD.ME INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE

 

International students taking classes at CBU are automatically enrolled in the Guard.me international student health insurance plan. This plan will begin on September 1, or on the date you arrive in Canada if you arrive after September 1. 

Students who arrive in Canada before the start of the semester can contact Guard.me directly to enrol in a student emergency plan, which will cover you until your CBU plan begins.

These plans are mandatory for all students studying in Canada.

All students studying at CBU are required to have guard.me international student health insurance. However, international students who have a Nova Scotia Government health insurance (MSI) card, valid until August 31, 2023, have the option to opt out of the Tier 1 plan and remain only in the Tier 2 plan. Tier 2 covers some items that MSI does not cover. For information on opting into the Tier 2 plan, please click here

International students who do not have a Nova Scotia Government health insurance (MSI) card must remain in both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the plan.

Please watch your CBU email and the CBU website closely for information relating to your insurance plan, including the opt out period. Once the opt out period closes, you will no longer be able to make changes.

Students who have insurance through their employers or their spouse’s employers may be eligible to opt out. Please contact your International Student Advisor via your Compass Student Account for more information.

International students can learn more about Tier 1 of the plan by clicking here and about Tier 2 of the plan by clicking here.

Tier 1 is mandatory for students without a Nova Scotia government insurance (MSI) card. Students with a Nova Scotia government insurance (MSI) card valid until August 31, 2022, can opt out of Tier 1 and remain only in Tier 2.

For further detailed information, please review your policy documents through your Guard.me account.

The international health insurance plan that was offered at $744 was a plan that was negotiated with Guard.me five years ago. That particular plan was only supposed to be a three year plan, but due to COVID-19, Guard.me granted CBU a two year extension.

The new plan comes in two tiers:

  • International students who do not have a Nova Scotia Government health insurance (MSI) card will be charged $1,283 for one full year (September 1-August 31), an increase of $539 per year ($45 per month / $1.47 per day). This includes coverage from both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the plan, including prescription drug coverage, vision care and dental care, which were not included in the previous plan.
  • International students who have a Nova Scotia Government health insurance (MSI) card, valid until August 31, 2023, have the option to opt out of the Tier 1 plan and remain only in the Tier 2 plan at a cost of $620. Tier 2 covers everything that MSI does not cover. For information on opting into the Tier 2 plan, please click here. The opt-out period is September 26-30, 2022.

The international student health insurance fee will automatically be charged to your student account after the opt out period closes at the end of the month that you begin your studies.

For example, students who begin their studies in September will be charged on September 30. This would be the same for students who begin their studies in January or May.

While the policy year runs from September 1 to August 31, the cost of your plan will be pro-rated (while in Canada) if you start in January or May.

No, CBU does not profit financially from international student health insurance. Every cent of our students’ premium goes into paying for their insurance plan.

Guard.me is the number one international health insurer in the world. In consultation with the CBU Students’ Union, staff in the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre and keeping in line with other universities in Atlantic Canada, this plan was the cheapest option with the best coverage, including enhanced prescription, vision and dental care.

We are confident that by continuing to work with Guard.me our students will be protected should they be faced with an unexpected illness or emergency.

Yes! Unlike our old plan, our new and improved plan includes enhanced benefits like prescription drug coverage, vision care and dental care, giving more students the opportunity to benefit from their health insurance.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical health as it includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. There is a significant number of students who use keep.meSAFE on a regular basis. Because of this, it was determined that it would be best to keep this program.

By using keep.meSAFE, students will have access to a counsellor that speaks their language, is from their culture, or has a shared experience. Real-time support is available via telephone and chat. Appointment-based support is available over the phone, via video and in-person.

To learn more about keep.meSAFE, please click here.

No, the guard.me international health insurance does not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. The intent of the guard.me international health insurance is to cover emergency health conditions that begin after you arrive in Canada and purchase your insurance coverage.

Examples of pre-existing conditions include:

  • If you have thyroid disease and were diagnosed in your home country, your ongoing treatment and medication would not be covered by guard.me.
  • If you become pregnant more than 30 days before you leave your home country, your prenatal care will not be covered by guard.me.
  • If you are diagnosed with an ongoing condition while in Canada, guard.me will cover costs to stabilize your condition (up to a 30 day supply), but ongoing treatment and medication would not be covered.

Please refer to the limitations and exclusions section of your policy document for more information.

Eligibility refers to the expenses that qualify for coverage under the guard.me insurance policy.

An exclusion is something that does not qualify for coverage under your plan.

It is strongly recommended that you bring enough medication from your country of origin to provide treatment until you return to your home country.

The CBU guard.me international student health insurance plan will begin on September 1 or the date you arrive in Canada if you arrive after September 1, until August 31 of the next year. Students who begin their studies in Canada in January or May are enrolled in the coverage until August 31 of the same year.

Family members can be added to your plan for an additional fee and must be registered with guard.me within 10 days of receiving your insurance policy. It will be your responsibility to pay guard.me directly for any family members enrolled in the plan.

For more information, please click here or contact an International Student Advisor through your CBU Compass Account.

You will receive your policy information in your CBU email within 5 days of the opt out period closing. You will then be instructed to login and create an account with guard.me so you can access your insurance card.

If you haven’t received the email in that time, try searching your email inbox by typing guard.me in the search bar. Please be sure to also check your ‘Junk’ mailbox. If you are still having trouble finding it, contact an International Student Advisor through your Compass Student Account immediately.

We strongly encourage you to print a copy of your insurance card and keep it in your wallet or take a picture with your phone so you will have access to it in case of an emergency.

Yes, you must show your insurance card whenever you visit a hospital or clinic. If you do not have your insurance card, you will be asked to pay out of pocket for the services.

Whenever possible, students must call guard.me when being admitted to a hospital or require major medical treatment or surgery.

If you forget your insurance card, you will be required to pay for the associated costs out of pocket. It is important to keep all receipts to submit to guard.me to assess your eligibility for coverage.

Students should download the guard.me app on your mobile device to make submitting receipts easier.

For minor issues such as cold, flu, headaches or minor injuries, students should visit a clinic.

For emergencies such as a serious accident, injury, broken bones, etc., please visit the nearest emergency room.

While you do not need to make an appointment at a clinic, it is strong recommended that you contact the clinic by phone before you go to confirm hours of operation.

To avoid long wait times at a clinic, you can also speak to a doctor within minutes from home with the guard.me Mobile Doctor.

The Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre is located on the CBU campus. It is staffed with a doctor, nurse and physiotherapist and can address minor, non-emergency issues.

To make an inquiry or to book an appointment, please call 902-563-1359 or email healthservices@cbu.ca. Other local clinics in the area include:

 Sydney Family Practice
196 Kings Road, Sydney
902-567-0010

Lawtons Drugs
196 Bentick St, Sydney
902-539-0078

Glace Bay Walk In Clinic
35 Sterling Road, Glace Bay, NS
902-849-4601

Dr. Virick Walk In Clinic
336 Kings Road, Sydney, NS
-902-539 6049

Please be reminded that students also have access to telemedicine with the guard.me Mobile Doctor.

The closest emergency room with 24/7 access is located at:

Cape Breton Regional Hospital
1482 George Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Other emergency rooms located in the surrounding areas include Glace Bay, North Sydney and New Waterford, however, hours of operation are subject to change.

If you are not able to drive and do not need an ambulance, you can call a taxi and ask for a receipt. You can submit the receipt for assessment of coverage eligibility. Students should download the guard.me app on your mobile device to make submitting receipts easier.

If it’s an emergency and you need an ambulance, call 911 and one will be sent to your location immediately.

Ambulance charges are separate from hospital charges, therefore a bill will be sent to you for payment.

Eligible ambulance charges can be submitted to guard.me for reimbursement.

No, you do not need extra insurance to travel outside of the country. Your guard.me policy includes emergency travel coverage up to 30 days worldwide.

The excursion program provides short-term travel up to 30 days worldwide, and 15 days to the USA.

Please note, neither of these programs cover you while you are in your home country.

At CBU, we understand that taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical health. CBU provides support for all students dealing with mental illness, including health conditions that disrupt a persons thoughts, emotions, relationships and daily functioning. To learn more about mental health resources at CBU, please click here.

CBU also offers free and confidential services with Personal Counsellors. Appointments can be by phone or through email to discuss a variety of issues including anger, parenting, grief, depression and anxiety, relationship issues, family conflict, time management, stress, financial concerns and couples counselling. Appointments are available Monday-Friday including some evenings. To book an appointment, contact the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre at 902-563-1639.

CBU also offers keep.me.SAFE, which provides mental health services to all international students. keep.meSAFE is an innovative Student Support Program (SSP) that helps students by promoting early intervention and 24/7 access to mental health support. keep.me SAFE helps students manage their mental health so they can fully participate in academic life and complete their studies.

keep.meSAFE is the first support program to use linguistically and culturally matched licensed clinicians, providing students a welcoming place where they are comfortable to seek help.

International students who have been in Nova Scotia for a full 12 months (without leaving the province for more than 30 days), can apply for coverage with MSI by calling 1- 800-563-8880.

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