The Ontario Government is finally phasing out the red and white health cards this summer.
According to the province, as of July 1, 2020, the old Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cards will no longer be accepted.
There are currently about 300,000 of the cards still in circulation, which is about 2% of all health cards.
Starting this month, those 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 deadline.
“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.
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“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 Each month, individuals using these outdated cards access up to $108 million in health services.”
Switch to a photo heath card by downloading and completing a health card re-registration form and bringing the right original documents to a @ServiceOntario centre. https://t.co/UZozWaIsTV pic.twitter.com/QOh0Yf0lW3
— ONTHealth (@ONThealth) January 9, 2020
The province said 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, it added that those with red and white cards who do not convert by July 1 may be asked to pay up-front for insured health services as their red and white health 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,” said the province.
Photo health cards can be obtained for free at Service Ontario centres.