Get ready for a new look, Quebecers — on your health insurance card, that is.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the Quebec health insurance board (RAMQ) has changed the design of its health card.

The new cards are inspired by Quebec driver's licence, RAMQ says, complete with a black-and-white I.D. photo and lighter background colours.

The card, nicknamed the "carte-soleil," will retain its distinctive sun, although you will have to look harder to spot it.

Starting on Jan. 24, the new cards will be distributed gradually through renewals, replacements of lost, stolen or damaged cards, or the issuance of a first card.

RAMQ new card

The RAMQ card features images that only appear under ultraviolet light. (RAMQ)

Quebecers with cards bearing the old design needn't worry — the current cards will be valid until they expire.

Some new security features on the RAMQ card include:

  • Ink that changes colour depending on angle and light.
  • Tactile engravings.
  • Images visible only under ultraviolet light.

Last July, RAMQ announced it would be using the services of Quebec's public automobile insurance agency, the SAAQ, to produce its cards by 2018.

This way, cards will be delivered more quickly: optimizing service by avoiding duplication of equipment and sharing expertise are among the rationale.

Originally, RAMQ was producing 2.3 million cards every year, but the demand for cards is expected to drop in half by 2018 as medicare cards will become valid for eight years instead of four.

With files from La Presse Canadienne