As a rule, your Ontario Health Card does not expire like a driving licence, which means that there are many people who still use their old red and white cards. However, that is changing, as the Ontario Government have announced that the old form cards will be no longer be accepted for OHIP services after the end of June this year.
Those holding the old cards will have to exchange them for the photo health cards that have been in circulation for some time now.
“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 Each month, individuals using these outdated cards access up to $108 million in health services.”
If you still have the old red and white cards, you should be hearing from the government soon, instructing you to get your new photo card at a ServiceOntario office before July 1. There is no charge for the new card. Just bring the right original documents (proof of Canadian citizenship or OHIP-eligible immigration status; proof of residency in Ontario and proof of identity) to the Centre, and fill in a Health Card Re-Registration form ahead of time, or by getting one at ServiceOntario.
Those needing to exchange their health card can be assured 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. But not having the photo card after July 1, will mean that those using the red and white ones may be asked to pay up-front for insured health services as the old card will not be valid. Once a photo health card is obtained, eligibility for Ontario health insurance is restored and any payments made for OHIP-insured health services will be promptly reimbursed once a valid health card is provided.
According to the Ministry of Health, approximately 300,000 red and white health cards remain in circulation.
In addition to sending multiple notification letters, the province will also advertise the final transition at all ServiceOntario locations and promote these changes on the ministry’s social media channels. If you can’t visit a ServiceOntario centre for medical reasons, a physician or nurse practitioner must complete a Health Card Medical Exemption Request form for you. You can have a friend, family member or someone else bring the completed form, along with your required documents, to a ServiceOntario centre.
It would be advisable to make the card exchange as soon as you can, to avoid any last-minute rush at the local ServiceOntario Centre in Kemptville.