Health insurance for students


As a student, you may be covered under your parents’ extended health plan, the group benefits offered by your school’s student union/organization, or both. However, if you don’t have any of this coverage, if you choose to opt out of your student plan, or if you would like to add more coverage, private health insurance options are available to you. Because students are generally young and healthy, the premiums are lower than they would be later in life.


Have you ever seen the breakdown of your student fees? On that long list of books, tuition, gym membership, student building improvement fees, and more, you might find the premium for your student health insurance plan.

Compared to other costs, the premium for these group plans is usually pretty low. But still, costs add up and you might be looking for ways to save any way you can! This leads a lot of students to ask: Should I opt out of my student health insurance plan? 

The answer isn’t the same for everyone. You might be thinking that you’re young and healthy, so you don’t need health insurance…right? 

Well… That’s probably not the case!

Health insurance helps you not only recover from an injury or illness but also prevent them by accessing important health services and benefits. Read on to find out how to make the most of your health insurance, whether you’re still on your parents’ plan, on your school’s health plan, or looking to set up your own customized health plan to suit your needs.

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How does student health insurance work?

If you’re Canadian, student health insurance works in tandem with your provincial health care plan.

Provincial Health Care

The provincial plan is that “free” Canadian healthcare that people talk about. It’s paid for by your tax dollars and administered by each provincial government. It covers basic medical and emergency care like hospitalizations, surgeries, and doctor’s visits. 

Private Health Insurance 

This insurance covers medical services and expenses needed to recover from an injury or illness, as well as prevent them. You pay either a monthly or yearly premium (bill) for this coverage. Private health insurance plans can vary in coverage and cost, depending on the provider, the specific policy, and your own health history (more on that below).

What does health insurance cover?

You might have access to private health insurance benefits through: 

  • Your parent’s’ work/group plan
  • Your parent’s’ individually-purchased extended health plan
  • Your student (union) group health plan 
  • You’ve purchased a private plan yourself

Whatever your provincial insurance doesn’t cover, your private health care plan will—up to certain coverage limits.

Provincial health vs private health

What does health insurance cover?

Private health insurance covers the expenses that government healthcare does not.

Extended health insurance can cover: 

  • Prescription drugs 
  • Dental care
  • Vision care 
  • Paramedical expenses (chiropractic services, physiotherapy, massage therapy, etc.) 
  • Medical equipment (blood sugar meters, crutches, CPAP machines, etc.) 
  • Emergency travel medical insurance

Health insurance for international students

If you’re an international student, you may or may not receive coverage through the province that your school is in—each province has its own rules. 

Provincial health care international student

If you are not eligible for healthcare under this plan, you need to look into private health insurance options to cover your healthcare needs. Your university may offer a student group health insurance plan and you should look into purchasing an emergency travel medical plan if you haven’t done so already. 

Student group health care plan

Your university or college usually has a contract with a health insurance provider for group health insurance. The cost to participate in this program will be outlined in your student fees. If you are an international student, this program may be mandatory. 

Emergency travel medical plan 

Your student health plan may cover you during the semester, but it may have coverage restrictions if you travel outside of the province where your school is located or it may only cover you while classes are in session. To make sure you’re fully protected as an international student, you should purchase emergency travel medical insurance for students. This insurance will pay for emergency medical care as well as prescriptions while you are away from your home country.

What can I do if I’m 25 and no longer covered under my parents?

Some health insurance plans will allow you to stay on your parent’s health plan, even as an adult. You might be allowed to stay on your parent’s plan: 

  • Until age 18 or 21
  • Until age 25 if you are a full-time student

If you get married, you may no longer be eligible for your parents’ plan. Once it’s official that you can no longer mooch those sweet free benefits, you’ll have to get your own plan

When you need to set up your own health insurance, you can go for two options. 

Option 1: Tap into your school’s health insurance plan 

Sign up for your student group health insurance plan that’s administered through your student government (most cost-effective)

Option 2: Buy your own health insurance

Apply for private extended health insurance that is personalized to your needs (most comprehensive coverage).

You may choose both options if you have complex health needs and require more coverage. In either case, premiums for the “student” age group are generally inexpensive because when you’re young, you have fewer health expenses in comparison to older age groups

Should I opt out of my student health plan?

It depends. The bottom line is, you should arm yourself with some kind of coverage so you’re not stressing over exams AND medical expenses. Health insurance gives you that peace of mind, knowing that if you have even a small accident (like falling off an electric scooter after one too many at the student pub), your expenses will be covered.

You might opt out of your student health plan if:

  • You are fully covered under your parent’s plan
  • You are fully covered under a spouse’s plan 

You are fully covered under your own private health insurance plan

⚠️ Keep in mind: Some student group plans may have specified enrollment dates, usually in the fall or spring. In the case that you’re relying on your parent’s coverage and you turn 25 halfway through the school year, you might be without coverage until the following enrollment period.

You should NOT opt out of your student health plan if: 

  • You do not have other health insurance coverage in place
  • You have complex health needs that cause frequent health expenses
  • You don’t want to coordinate benefits with your other plans (although coordinating benefits means you pay almost $0 out-of-pocket)

Am I covered if I go to school out of province?

If you are a Canadian and go to school outside of your home province, your provincial coverage will extend for the usual emergency services. However, you may have to pay upfront and submit the receipt later on to get your money back. Additionally, each province has a standard of what they will reimburse for each emergency service. For example, one province may have a $75 fee for ambulatory services, whereas another charges $300. 

If you have extended medical insurance, each company has different rules about out-of-province services. Your health insurance provider may decide: 

  • You are NOT covered for any out-of-province medical procedures, services, or treatment.
    Ex. Your regular teeth cleaning wouldn’t be covered.
  • You ARE covered for but only up to the limit dictated in your home province.
    Ex. BC has a standard dental cleaning price, whereas Alberta dentist’s prices vary. If you are from BC and get your teeth cleaned in Alberta, your dental coverage limit will be the limit set for BC, meaning you could have to pay for the difference.

It’s always best to check your extended health insurance policy documents to see exactly what it covers and where. If you are not sure how to access that information, reach out to your broker or one of our agents.

Am I covered if I go to school out of the country?

When you are going to school on an exchange or just out of your home country, your health coverage may vary. Some countries provide health care free of charge to anyone, including international students. Other countries may charge thousands for medical services.

If you are a Canadian going to school in another country, you may receive medical coverage in a number of ways:

1. Provincial health care plan
The provincial health insurance plan of your home province may reimburse you for emergency medical costs, but that’s not always the case. In some provinces, like Alberta, you will be reimbursed for some emergency services like hospital stays, but only at the standardized rate it would cost if you were hospitalized in Alberta.

For example, the standard in-patient hospital stay in Canada is $100 CAD per day, and so your provincial coverage will only reimburse up to that amount. This can cause a lot of financial strain if you had to stay in the hospital in a place like the United States. In some states, a single day in the hospital can land you with a $4,000 USD bill—leaving you to pay the thousands of dollars difference out of pocket.

2. Extended health plan
Many extended health insurance plans include coverage for emergency travel medical. This part of the health insurance policy covers you for unexpected medical emergencies when you are out of the country, as well as coverage for prescription medication and other services. Coverage may be limited, so it’s best to check your policy wordings. Student group health insurance may not have this coverage on their policies. 

3. Travel medical insurance
Any Canadian traveling outside of Canada should purchase travel medical insurance. It helps to cover the cost of medical care if you become sick or injured while traveling. Travel insurance can also protect you from financial loss if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip. Travel medical coverage makes up for any shortfalls in your provincial or extended health plan. Read more about the difference between travel medical and trip interruption insurance

Most travel medical insurance policies typically cover:

  • Emergency medical treatment for illness or injury
  • Prescription medications
  • Emergency dental treatment services
  • Essential medical equipment (crutches, wheelchairs, slings, braces, etc.)
  • X-rays and other diagnostic laboratory procedures (bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc.)
  • Required ground, air, or sea ambulance services
  • Follow-up post-medical appointments with healthcare providers
  • Medical evacuation
  • Ambulance travel to the nearest hospital
  • Meal expenses and accommodations while waiting for medical care

Many countries, including Canada, will make sure that you have some sort of international student health insurance plan in place before entering the country and beginning your studies.

What affects the cost of health insurance?

How much does health insurance for students cost?

If you are a student, chances are you are young and healthy and that means you’ll get a great rate for health insurance. Each plan will vary depending on your individual circumstances, but you can expect to pay about $50-$100 per month for a private health insurance plan. If you have coverage through your school or student union, you should expect to pay less as group plans have cheaper rates. This is why it’s usually best to stick with your student plan if you are eligible—it’s the most cost-effective option for students.

Factors that affect the price of health insurance include: 

  • Medical history 
  • Age
  • Province of residence/location 
  • Policy plan details
More choice. Lower price.
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Get a quote for student health insurance 

To get an accurate price, it’s best to get a personalized quote. At, we have a great, instant, online tool that can help you shop the best rate for health insurance policies. We know that as a student you’re likely on a tight budget, so let us help you save every penny you can on your policy! Book a call with one of our friendly expert insurance advisors today to chat about protecting your personal and financial health today!

Student Health Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions

Am I covered if I go to school out of province?

Your province may cover some out-of-province doctor visits and emergency medical care, but they do not usually cover things like ambulance services. You may have to front some of the cost and you may be reimbursed by your provincial health care plan at a later date. Your private, extended, or group plan may not cover you outside of your home province. 

Am I covered if I go to school outside of Canada?

If you are traveling outside of the country, your provincial or private health insurance will not cover your medical expenses. You must purchase travel medical insurance. This might be included in extended health insurance automatically, but not always. Check your coverage details. If it does not come included in your existing health insurance policy, we can help you shop for the best emergency travel medical insurance on the market! 

How do I file a health insurance claim?

Some health insurance plans pay the service provider (doctor, pharmacist, physiotherapist, etc.) directly, while others pay you back later. Imagine you need medicine from the pharmacy. If your insurance covers it directly, the pharmacy sends the bill to them. You pay only a part of the cost. But if they don’t cover it directly, you pay the full price and then send the receipt to your insurance company. They give you some money back for the medicine. If you have to file a claim, contact your insurance company’s claims submission page.

Read our Step-by-Step Guide to Filing a Health Insurance Claim.

How do I get a hold of my insurance company?

If you have questions about claims or specific coverage details, you can contact your insurance provider directly. 

Company Contact Info
1-866 838-7553


Greenshield (SureHealth)

Manulife CoverMe



Need help?
Call us at 1-888-601-9980 or book time with our licensed experts.

  • Students are usually covered under their parent’s extended health plan until they are 25, or they are covered through their school’s group benefits plan
  • Students can opt out of their school’s group plan if they have coverage elsewhere
  • Health insurance is cheaper when you’re a student because you’re generally young and healthy
  • Some school alumni associations offer group discounts for health insurance

By Christopher Poloniato
Insurance Advisor, LLQP

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