Using your Health Insurance Card
With your Health Insurance Card, you benefit from a range of services covered under the Québec Health Insurance Plan. One card only is issued per person. Make sure to have a valid card at all times by renewing it before the required deadline.
You have to present your valid Health Insurance Card to receive the services covered by the public plan, such as medical, dental, optometric and pharmaceutical services. During elections, when identity checks are performed, you may also be asked to present your Health Insurance Card.
You are responsible for your Health Insurance Card and must use it adequately. Illegal use of the card makes its holder liable to a fine or a claim for all amounts owed as a result. For instance:
- Lending, giving or selling your card
- Using someone else's card
You can report a situation that you find questionable.
Being present in Québec is mandatory
You must comply with this rule if you wish to continue using your Health Insurance Card. To remain eligible for the Health Insurance Plan, Québec residents must not be absent from Québec 183 days or more per year. For further information, please refer to the webpage Inform RAMQ of a departure from Québec.
Card not required
The following persons may receive health care without having to present their card:
- Patients requiring urgent care
- Children under age one who have not yet received their card (the card of one of the parents is used instead)
- Youths between the ages of 14 and 17 who consult a doctor without their parents' authorization
- Persons living in a rehabilitation centre or a residential and long-term care centre for services received on the premises
Forgotten or expired card
If you do not present your card or if it has expired, you will have to pay to receive covered services. Subsequently, you will be able to apply for a reimbursement, but this no later than one year after having obtained the services.
The Health Insurance Card described
Duration of validity
The Health Insurance Card is generally valid for a period of 4 to 8 years. However, newcomers to Québec will first obtain a card valid for 1 year. Other exceptions may apply, for instance, for temporary Québec residents. All cards are valid until the last day of the month in which they expire.
Gradual change in the period of validity
Starting in 2014, the duration of validity has gradually increased from 4 to 8 years. And, within families, members may have differing periods of validity, depending on when they renew their card.
Information appearing on the card
RAMQ has been producing a new type of Health Insurance Card since January 2018. You will receive your new card following your next renewal. In the meanwhile, the old version remains valid.
Old card (still valid)
The card has a bar code representing your Health Insurance Number. It contains no other information.
Two-dimensional bar code: Cards issued since January 24, 2018 have an additional two-dimensional bar code. It contains information such as your first and last names, and your date of birth.
Your Health Insurance Number is unique. It contains the following information:
- The first 3 letters of your last name
- The first letter of your first name
- The 2 last digits of your year of birth
- Your month of birth (to which 50 is added to indicate female sex)
- Your day of birth
- The administrative code for use by RAMQ
Your identity contains the following information:
- First and last names at birth: Only the initial of the first name is displayed instead if the number of characters exceed the space provided
- Spouse's name or sequential number:
- It appears at the request of women married before April 2, 1981 or those married outside Québec who exercise their civil rights under the name of their spouse. It is added on the card below the last name at birth.
- The sequential number is the number of cards we have issued to you since 1984.
The year, the month, your date of birth and your sex appear on the card.
You should receive a renewal form 3 months before your card expires. Make sure to renew your card before this date. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the cost of covered services you receive and then apply with us for a reimbursement.
Generally, the expiry of your Health Insurance Card coincides with that of your driver's licence, if you have one. You can therefore renew both at the same time.
Your photo and signature are digitized and displayed on your card. Certain persons are exempt from having to provide their photo or their signature. In this case, the mention "valide sans photo" or "valide sans signature" will appear instead of the missing photo or signature.
You can affix a sticker on the back of your Health Insurance Card if you wish to consent to organ and tissue donation.
A reference number can be found on the back of health insurance cards issued after January 24, 2018.