Interim Federal Health (IFH)

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits to resettled refugees and refugee claimants. IFHP is administered by Medavie Blue Cross

Patient Registration

IFH provides health insurance while the patient waits for MSP to come into effect. After MSP is activated, IFH still covers the cost of supplemental services (such as dental and vision care) and prescription drugs for one year.

Refugees are eligible to apply for IFH upon arrival in Canada. Enrolment is not automatic. Each refugee must file an application. Refugees can complete the IFH registration form and submit it online, or mail the application to the BC CIC office.  The settlement worker or sponsor usually assists with this.

Syrian refugees, however, will be given an IFH certificate by CBSA officers at the point of entry into Canada, or issued one by an IRCC officer shortly after arrival.  

IFH is activated within days of approval, and is in effect for one year. 

A patient with IFH coverage will have a certificate that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 9.24.17 AM.png

IFH Coverage

As of April 1, 2016, IFH has been fully restored to pre-2012 levels, with full coverage for all refugees (government and privately sponsored) and refugee claimants, including:

  • Basic coverage: Physician and hospital services; laboratory and diagnostic services

  • Prescription Drug Coverage including medications on BC formulary plus some additional drug benefits including vitamins and parasitic medications

  • Supplemental services such as basic dental care, optometry, physiotherapy & counseling. (There is not a cap to dental services that can be billed per patient, although many procedures require prior approval.)

Up-to-date benefit grids and formularies can be found here. Janet Cleveland of McGill University has developed an excellent summary of IFHP coverage, available here.

To confirm a patient's coverage, locate the 8-digit client ID number at the upper right-hand corner of their IFH document, and enter it into Medavie's secure provider web portal, or call 1-888-614-1880. 

IFH Providers

Medavie Blue Cross maintains a list of physicians, dentists, optometrists, midwives, pharmacies etc. who are registered with IFH. Inclusion on this list does not mean that the provider is necessarily accepting new patients or clients. 

Prior Approval

In extenuating circumstances, a provider can apply for prior approval of a service or medication not routinely covered by the patient's IFH health plan. Forms available on the Medavie Blue Cross website here