Starting Feb. 15 and over the next five years, eligible British Columbians between the ages of 19 and 74 will be required to replace their CareCard with the new BC Services Card by renewing their enrolment in the Medical Services Plan.
The new card can serve as a driver’s licence and act as a photo ID, making B.C. the first province in Canada to issue a combined card. In Quebec and New Brunswick health cards already have expiry dates.
Minister of Health Margaret MacDiarmid said Monday people can still choose to have one card or two.
“Seventy per cent of people in a poll said they’d rather just have one card, but it’s an option. People can choose.”
When people go in to get the new card they will have to have ID with them.
At issue has been fraudulent use of cards, either by people that are not residents using B.C. health cards, or in some cases where more than one person is using the same card.
“We really want to make sure that only people that should be using the cards are using them,” MacDiarmid said.”If more than one person is using a card then a medical history is being built up that could be very confusing, especially if someone is accessing the emergency department at a hospital.”
That’s one reason to have the photo ID and the expiry date, she added.
Concerns have also been expressed about the chip in the card and the fear that personal information is contained in the chip.
“One of the things I want to be clear about is that the chip is not even activated today, but even once it is activated, it will not have personal information in it,” MacDiarmid explained.
“It allows access to that personal information, but the information is not in the card.”
Health records will not be available by accessing driver’s licences either, she confirmed.
People who do not drive can still enrol at the nearest location where driver’s licences are issued for the new card.
Once a person enrols, they will be issued a new BC Services Card, or a combined card, and will need to re-enrol every five years.
The BC Services Card is free of charge, MacDiarmid added.