Say Goodbye to Red and White Health Cards: What you need to know...

January 10, 2020

Ontario is protecting the health care system against fraud by ensuring the final transition to a more secure photo health card. As of July 1, 2020, red and white health cards will no longer be accepted for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) services. 


ESHC is looking forward to the July 1, 2020 health card updates.  With ESHC’s multicultural patient population, having all patients present with photo ID will continue to assist in validating that we are caring for the correct patient presenting.  The cards also provide with further details to assist us in selecting the correct patient in our health information systems and can also be used as a reference tool for patient signature validation.

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. 

“We will be able to identify with certainty our patients” says Mary Ann Beiber, Patient Registration Clerk

Photo health cards can easily be obtained for free at ServiceOntario by:

  • Bringing the right original documents (proof of Canadian citizenship or OHIP-eligible immigration status; proof of residency in Ontario and proof of identity);
  • Completing a Health Card Re-Registration form ahead of time or by getting one at ServiceOntario; and
  • Visiting a ServiceOntario centre.

“With the photo ID card, ESHC is able to assist our patients with a friendly reminder and advice on how to renew their cards should patients present with cards approaching expiration.” says Tina Badour, Manager Patient Registration, Health Information, Privacy Officer 

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 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.