Red and white Ontario health cards expiring by July 1st, and this time it’s really true

ONTARIO — Your old red and white health card is now terminal.

As a measure to reduce fraud, the old cards are set to be done as of July 1st, says the Ontario government.

The cards were originally introduced around 1990 without an expiry date. Approximately 300,000 remain in circulation — or two percent of all health cards.  Modern photo-ID cards came out later that decade — but do have an expiry date, likely dissuading some of the old card users from ever making the switch.

“The advanced security features of the photo health card help protect our public health system and is another measure to improve value for taxpayers’ dollars,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While there is no cost to convert or renew an Ontario photo health card, there could be significant costs by allowing red and white health cards, which could be used fraudulently, to remain in circulation. Each month, individuals using these outdated cards access up to $108 million in health services.”

Starting this month, individuals with red and white health cards will begin to receive letters letting them know that they will need to get a photo health card at a ServiceOntario centre before the July 1, 2020, deadline.

New photo-ID cards are available without charge at ServiceOntario centres. Applicants must complete a Health Card Re-Registration form ahead of time or do so at the ServiceOntario outlet and bring the right original documents (proof of Canadian citizenship or OHIP-eligible immigration status; proof of residency in Ontario and proof of identity) to complete the process.

The government also points out that regardless of an individual’s health card status, Ontario’s public hospitals cannot refuse to provide services to a patient who is faced with a life-threatening medical emergency.

Red and white card holders not converted by July 1, 2020, may be asked to pay up-front for OHIP-insured health services. However, the government also says such out-of-pocket costs incurred by tardy vintage card holders will be “promptly” reimbursed once they get their new photo card.In addition to sending multiple notification letters, the province says it will advertise the final transition at all ServiceOntario locations and promote the red-and-white card’s looming demise on the ministry’s social media channels.

Successive provincial governments have talked about doing away with the original health card for the last 25 years.

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