The provincial government of British Columbia, Canada, introduced a new BC Services Card for citizens, replacing the CareCard, the ID currently used by citizens to access the government’s medical services plan, and combining with the driver’s license.
The BC Services Card will function both as a driver’s license and access card for the medical services plan, reducing one card that citizens need to carry. The card can also be used as identification anywhere citizens need to present government-issued ID, instead of the British Columbia Identification (BCID) card that citizens without driver’s licenses carry.
Enhanced Security Features
The card includes new features to reduce misuse by ensuring that government healthcare benefits are provided to residents that are entitled to them. The government also aims to enhance patient safety by ensuring that healthcare providers deliver services to the right person. The current CareCard hasn’t been updated significantly since its introduction in 1989; technological advances since then are now being incorporated into the BC Services Card.
The current CareCard, for example, does not have a photo of the card holder. The BC Services Card will include a photo, making identity fraud harder. Additional security features such as a hologram, barcode containing citizens’ data, and the latest standards for anti-forgery measures have also been included in the card.
Citizens will be required to reapply for the card every five years to allow the government to verify identity and re-check eligibility criteria. The current CareCard, on the other hand, does not expire, so citizens who no longer fulfil eligibility criteria might still be cardholders.
The card also contains an electronic chip which will be activated in the future to enable citizens to access more government services. Citizens’ Personal Health Number, a unique number assigned by the Ministry of Health to beneficiaries, will be printed on the back of the card.
Despite the multiple functions of the card, the government will ensure that only authorised departments can access citizens’ data. For example, the police department will be able to view the driving history of the cardholder but not their medical information, while medical departments will not be able to access the citizens driving history. Access to the records is protected by a passcode.
In the future, citizens will be able to access public services online or in-person with their BC Services Card. The chip embedded in the card will allow citizens to validate their identity by tapping their card on a card reader at the service provider. Businesses too have been issued guidelines for beginning acceptance of the BC Services Card as identity proof.
The card has been made available from 15 January. Eligible citizens between the ages of 19 and 74 can apply for the card when they renew their driver’s license or BCID, or at any driver licensing office nearby, at no fee. Minors and adults above the age of 74 will be issued BC Services Card without a photo. All eligible residents have until 2018 get the new BC Services Card.