British Columbians will have the option of replacing their old CareCard with a new BC Services Card beginning Feb. 15 by renewing their re-enrolment in the Medical Services Plan.
“We’re requiring British Columbians over the next five years to switch over to this new card. They’ll have the option of having a combined driver’s licence and CareCard if they want to but they can also keep them separate,” said Margaret MacDiarmid, minister of health.
The CareCard was first introduced in 1989 and has not been extensively updated since then. The new BC Services Card will encompass new technological advances to provide the most secure piece of personal identification possible.
“The new BC Services Card is going to be less susceptible to identity theft and that we believe there will be less fraudulent access to health services … we know that there are about 900 million CareCards in circulation today and there’s only 4.4 [million] British Columbians. We do believe that there are at least some cases where people are using CareCards and they really shouldn’t be,” explained MacDiarmid.
A photograph of the beneficiary, anti-forgery features, identity proofing and an expiry date will all be on the card.
Fort St. John RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie explained that updates are an important part of stopping fraud because as technology advances, those people who participate in white-collar crime, like identity theft, also before more technologically advanced.
“We always need to in general keep updating the processes and keep updating all the security measures we have to prevent fraud. When you do use the photo idea, it’s another level of security that people can check and make sure that the picture matches the person who’s using identification,” explained Shelkie.
For those looking to obtain a new card, according to MacDiarmid the easiest way possible is to renew it at the same time as renewing a driver’s license.
“If people choose to do it that way, then they do have the option of just having one card,” said MacDiarmid.
Minimizing the number of different cards a person carries is something that Shelkie says will help reduce the risk of identity fraud.
“In that way, it’s good if you combine your CareCard and your driver’s licence,” she said.
If a person does not have a driver’s licence, they can still obtain the new card at the nearest location that issues driver’s licenses. It will be another piece of government issued ID with a photo.
“It’s also part of it being a secure identification so if you look at your CareCard today … it wouldn’t be considered to be adequate identification simply because it doesn’t have a photography on it. The BC services card will be very secure government ID very much like a driver’s license or a passport,” MacDiarmid noted.
The new BC Services Card does require that a new card be issued every five years. However, some people may be excused from renewing the card.
“Children will be able to get a BC Services card. They won’t need to have a photo. When you think of how rapidly children change, it makes sense,” explained MacDiarmid.
She also added that there are some other exceptions.
“Some other parts of our population, some older people, some people who don’t have a home – [it’s] very difficult for them to actually go somewhere and get a photo taken and so there will be some exemptions.”
The plan to change the CareCard to the BC Services Card was first announced in May of 2011 at the same time the amendments to the Medicare Protection Act took place to help make sure the CareCard would have additional protection for those using it.
However, according to MacDiarmid, there are some people who are concerned that the new card, especially if combined with a driver’s licences, may make records available that shouldn’t be.
“It’s really important for people to know that it does have this chip embedded in it, but that chip does not contain information. For example, it doesn’t contain your health information or your driving record,” she said.
According to MacDiarmid, this means that ICBC will not have access to a person’s health information nor will a medical professional be able to access your driving records.
“I do understand why people are concerned about … would be uncomfortable to think that your family doctor is looking at your driving record, they wouldn’t be able to do that,” she explained.