VICTORIA – The B.C. government is rolling out its new high-tech medical services cards starting Feb. 15, in an effort to phase out millions of CareCards in the hands of non-residents.
The new cards will be combined with the B.C. driver’s licence, with a similar “BC Services Card” available to those who don’t drive. Residents will be required to re-enrol to renew the card every five years, whether they drive or not.
Qualified residents can enrol in the Medical Services Plan at any provincial office that issues driver’s licences. There is no fee for the health services card only. The current $75 fee for a five-year driver’s licence renewal will apply to the new combined cards, discounted to $17 for seniors.
There is no requirement to get the new card until your driver’s licence needs to be renewed. The government’s plan is to change over all eligible B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 74 to the new cards over the next five years.
To be eligible for MSP coverage, you must be a citizen or approved permanent resident of Canada, living in B.C. at least six months of the year. Dependents must also be residents to be eligible for coverage.
The health ministry announced the new card program in May 2011, after a review showed there were up to 9.1 million B.C. CareCards in circulation. The total population of B.C. is 4.5 million.
Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said the new card is designed to comply with B.C.’s information and privacy law, which restricts how personal data can be used and shared.
That means ICBC and police have no access to medical files, and hospitals and medical offices have no access to driving records.