To receive healthcare services free of charge under the Health Insurance Plan in Québec and to benefit from coverage under the Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan, you must present your valid Health Insurance Card.
What happens if you don't present your card?
If you don't present your Health Insurance card or your card is expired, you must pay for the healthcare services you receive and then apply to the Régie de l'assurance maladie for a reimbursement. To do so, obtain the form entitled Demande de remboursement à la personne assurée, available from your doctor, and send it to the Régie as soon as possible, not later than one year after the service date. The Régie will reimburse you only if you were eligible for the Health Insurance Plan when you received the services.
In certain situations, you can receive insured healthcare services even if you don't present your card. This is the case for:
- persons who require urgent care
- children under age 1 who don't yet have a Health Insurance Card (the doctor may request one of the parents' cards)
- children ages 14 and 17 (inclusive) who consult a doctor without their parental authorization
- persons residing in a rehabilitation centre or longterm care facility
If you are registered for the Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan but are unable to present your card when obtaining prescription drugs, you can ask the pharmacist whether an arrangement can be made.
When must you present your card?
Under the law, the only purpose for which you must present your Health Insurance Card is to obtain healthcare services insured under the Health Insurance Plan or prescription drugs covered by the Public Prescription Drug Insurance Plan. There is only one exception to this rule: you may be asked to present your card for election purposes, to establish your identity as a voter.
In other situations, no third party (such as a merchant) may require you to present your Health Insurance Card or to provide your Health Insurance Number, for example, to gain admission to a bar, to open a bank account or to join a video club.
Moreover, third parties (such as a sports or summer camp monitors) are not allowed to require you to leave your Health Insurance Card with them, and no-one may ask you to submit your card as a guarantee for the rental of goods such as sports equipment or a stroller.
Anyone who insists that you present your Health Insurance Card or provide your Health Insurance Number for purposes other than obtaining insured healthcare services is liable to a fine.
Under the Health Insurance Act, you are not allowed to lend, give away or sell your card, nor may you accept that another person lend, give or sell you his/her card. Anyone who does so is liable to a fine. You are responsible for your Health Insurance Card and for using it properly.