Help me find affordable rx coverage for my pre-existing conditions
January 10, 2010 12:17 PM   Subscribe

American student moving to Vancouver, BC with history of depression and other ailments: how do I get my Rxs without paying a fortune?

Moving to Vancouver for school, and I understand about 90% of what I need to do to get in w/ a study visa, etc.

It looks like the iMED and MSP plans do not cover any pre-existing conditions, which I have in spades. Where do I go to find non-shady/affordable prescription coverage? Will I be able to get these conditions covered if/when I get permanent resident status?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IME in the UK, you'd go to your GP, tell him/her what your deal is, bring your US prescript, possibly be ready to have your American doc's office fax records. Then s/he will find the local equivalent and you'll be set.
posted by k8t at 12:31 PM on January 10, 2010

If you are going for grad school you may find that the grad student union will offer a drug plan which usually covers 50 to 80% of prescription costs. Additionally, the school should have onsite counseling available. Once you are permanent resident you should be covered under the provincial health plan and so any doctor's appointments (including psychiatrist, but not psychologist) will be covered.
Good luck!
posted by nprigoda at 12:39 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Meds aren't that expensive here. Even when I didn't have an extended medical plan, my three-month Celexa prescription cost just over $100 Cdn. And you will get a prescription plan through school, if you're at UBC.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:14 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, get a light box to offset those gray Vancouver days.
posted by doncoyote at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2010

A lot of Canadian universities have student health plans provided by the student unions. At UBC, this is your health plan. You pay the fees with tuition, it's quite affordable ($200 a year) and it takes 80% of the cost of prescription drugs, and also pays a fair bit of dental and optical and other stuff.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:32 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

As previously mentioned, you shouldn't have a problem. UBC's medical plan for students is actually quite good, and I think SFU's is comparable (I'm assuming you'll be at one of these two schools). You might also be required to pay the $54 a month for MSP -- I'm not sure how that works for non-canadians. But you'll be able to figure this all out once you're at school -- both UBC/SFU are well versed in dealing with the needs of international students.

Absolute worst case scenario, you could always find a doctor in Blaine, WA (or any other american border town) and drive down there every three months for a check up and prescription refill. It's about an hour drive, not including border lineups. But I really don't think it's going to result in that -- if Canada has one thing going for it, it's better-than-american health coverage, even for visitors.

Personally, I'd be more worried about letting your American coverage lapse, if you ever want to go back.
posted by cgg at 2:08 PM on January 10, 2010

I am no insurance expert, but according to iMED's coverage/policy wording, a pre-existing medical condition is defined as "any medical condition for which the Insured sought medical attention, excluding routine check-up, had a change in medication for, or for which symptoms manifested themselves within a period of 90-Days prior to the Effective Date of coverage."

I could be completely wrong, but this says to me that so long as within the 90-days prior to enrolling you do not change your medication and no symptoms are manifesting themselves, you should be covered. A routine check-up regarding your condition should be permitted according to this wording without making you ineligible.

The part that says "had a change in medication for," would especially suggest that you are permitted to be on some sort of medication, but that if you change it in the 90-Days prior to enrolling you are rendered ineligible. I am the first to admit that this sounds a little odd.
posted by waterandrock at 3:48 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, your student union health plan will cover these types of medications for international students.

You will only need to get private (non-MSP) coverage for the first three months you are in Canada- there is a waiting period. Then you will be able to enroll in MSP as well as your student union health plan.
posted by sambiamb at 7:55 PM on January 10, 2010

Look for a psychiatrist that works for an organization that offers no- or low-fee office visits. When I took Prozac, I saw a doctor at Catholic Charities. Depending upon my income, my office visits were free or $15. I'd go to Wal-Mart and spend $4 to get it filled.
posted by VC Drake at 10:38 PM on January 10, 2010

2nding doncoyote on the lightbox, in addition to your meds. Vancouver is beautiful, but it's also SAD City.
posted by media_itoku at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2010

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