20 years later, the Ontario Ministry of Health finally caught up with me about my old health card
First introduced in 1995 by the unpopular Ontario NDP government as a fraud reduction measure, all eligible Ontarians became subject to eventually being required to obtain a new photo ID health card, as a replacement for the old red-and-white cards.
The government laughably claimed that they would phase out all old cards by the year 2000. Fifteen years after that “deadline,” they finally caught up with me. I received a letter in the mail, asking me to obtain a photo ID card in order to retain my taxpayer-funded health care.
Some people originally thought a photo ID card was a preferred option, until they were warned that it wasn’t a good idea, because they’d have to renew it every five years and pay money for it (of course).
The funny thing is that I knew someone who, around 2006, got one of these letters in the mail and ignored it at first, thinking they would go away, only to later get a final notice of his health care being cut off if he didn’t comply. Meanwhile, he knew others who still had their cards — highlighting the seeming absolute arbitrary nature of the process. I feel somewhat special that I managed to avoid these letters for nine more years than him, despite no apparent reason for deserving such luck.
Another odd thing is how plain Social Insurance cards are still being issued by the federal government, which are required for income tax reporting and to have most jobs, unless they are under-the-table, yet the federal government still hasn’t found the need to eliminate that even bigger potential of fraud
The slackness of the replacement of these cards is typical for such a government program. It’s like the provincially-funded and operated GO Transit trains, of which I have taken two recent trips on, and they never bothered to verify whether I had purchased a ticket, and had I been the dishonest type, could’ve ridden for free. No privately-owned business would do business in this way, nor would any private business take 20 years to replace their customers’ authentication documents if fraud really was an issue that tangibly affected their bottom line.
The health card replacement plan, pitched as a way of combating fraud, was a fraud of its own sort from the beginning, since it was implemented as a feel-good measure by an unpopular government that was flagging in the opinion polls and was defeated so badly that originally lost official party recognition in the legislature after the 1995 election.
Instead of reforming the system, such as joining every other country in the world except for Cuba and North Korea, in allowing for private funds to be used to pay for primary health care, as a supplement to the taxpayer-funded system, the government decided to take the easy way out and pretend they cared about fraud when they had already wasted money on the Skydome white elephant in Toronto just so the province’s capital city could say it had the latest in stadium technology with a fully retractable roof and a Jumbotron, and go over budget by hundreds of millions of dollars.
As for that notice, I’ll be responding, soon enough. Apparently I get two more notices before they will cut me off, but even if I am in need of services, I can later apply and get reimbursed for the costs. It seems that is ironically one of the few ways to have transparency in the system, of knowing exactly how much health care costs us — aside from looking up obscure line items in a billing table — and privately fund your primary health care — but without getting reimbursed with your taxes.