Protecting seniors from fraud

Switching to secure photo health cards is easy and free

The red and white health cards are being sent into the archives for good.

As of July 1, 2020, the red and white health cards will no longer be accepted for all Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) services, according to a press release by the province.

This final measure comes as the province continues to take steps to protect the health care system against fraud by ensuring a more secure photo health card.

“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,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott states in the release. “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 Each month, individuals using these outdated cards access up to $108 million in health services.”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 they will need to get a photo health card at a ServiceOntario centre before the July 1, 2020 deadline.

Photo health cards can be obtained for free at ServiceOntario. Those individuals looking to update their health cards are asked to bring the correct original documents (proof of Canadian citizenship or OHIP-eligible immigration status; proof of Ontario residency and proof of identity), and completing a health card re-registration form ahead of time or in person at ServiceOntario.

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, according to the release.

Red and white health card holders who do not convert by July 1, 2020, 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.

Approximately 300,000 red and white health cards remain in circulation, which represents two per cent of all Ontario health cards, according to the province.

For more information, visit ontario.ca.