Alberta puts money towards phasing out paper health cards

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The Alberta government is moving one step closer to doing away with its oft-criticized paper heath cards.

Currently, Albertans are given paper slips with their Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan number, as well as personal information.

However a line in the 2021 budget document sets aside $600,000 for “Registry System Modernization.” The line item says the money is to “Add Personal Health Number to Driver’s Licence (DL) and Identification (ID) Card”

Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary to Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, confirmed in an email that modernizing health cards was an election promise that the United Conservative government plans on keeping.

“We know that Albertans are frustrated with their paper health cards, which have no security features and are more than a few decades old,” wrote Velthuizen. “Service Alberta has been working closely with our colleagues in Health to explore options to modernize the paper cards using some of the same security, technology, and innovation that led to Alberta having some of the most secure driver’s licences and ID cards in North America.”

Paper heath cards often come as a surprise to new Albertans, but have been the norm for decades. The slips come with a warning to “please protect your card” and are often laminated or placed in plastic slips.

In 2015, Alberta’s auditor general suggested in a report that the province’s health care system was ripe for fraud, pointing to provincial health cards’ lack an expiry date as one way fraud could be perpetrated.

On Twitter: @brodie_thomas

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