Your Medicare card is a very important piece of identification. It’s proof of your health insurance benefits.
You’re often required to present your Medicare card when seeking care. Without it, you could end up paying a lot more out of pocket.
You’ll receive your card in the mail along with your “Welcome to Medicare” packet when you first enroll in the federal Medicare program.
Medicare enrollment happens automatically if you already receive Social Security benefits when you turn 65. Otherwise, you need to sign up for Medicare on your own.
But how do you get a replacement if your Medicare card is lost, stolen or damaged?
The process is easy, so there’s no reason to put off getting your card replaced.
Here’s how it works.
3 Ways to Get a Medicare Card Replacement
There are three main ways to replace your Medicare card if your original is lost, stolen or damaged.
- Log in to your MyMedicare account
- Call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
- Log in to your My Social Security Account
1. Log in to Your MyMedicare Account
This is the fastest way to order a replacement card. Simply login to your Medicare online account, then click Print my Medicare Card on the main page.
You’ll get a temporary replacement Medicare card online to print, and you can also request a new card be mailed to you.
If you don’t already have an online Medicare account, it’s easy to set one up. You’ll need your Medicare number, coverage start date, last name, zip code, birthday and email address.
2. Call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
Wait times may be long, but a customer service representative can order you a new card.
3. Log in to Your My Social Security Account
Once you’re logged in to your My Social Security account, go to the Medicare Enrollment Detail section and click on Replace Your Medicare Card. Then select Mail My Replacement Medicare Card.
This is a good option if you don’t already have an online Medicare account and can’t remember your Medicare card number.
If you receive Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you can call 877-722-5772 to get a replacement card.
Once you receive your card in the mail, you can start using it right away — no activation required.
Also, your Medicare card does not expire and you don’t need to “renew” it each year.
How to Get Other Health Insurance Cards Replaced
The methods above only apply to your red, white and blue Medicare card.
To get a replacement card for your Part D, Medicare Advantage or Medicaid plans, you’ll need to contact those providers directly.
You can find the contact information for your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan by logging into your online Medicare account.
It’s smart to keep a copy of these other health insurance cards in a safe place at home alongside other important documents — like your Social Security card. This way you have a backup in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
Make Sure Your Address Is Up to Date
Your new Medicare card will be mailed to the address on file with the Social Security Administration.
If you’ve moved recently, make sure you have accurate information on file with SSA. Otherwise, your new card will go to the wrong address.
You’ll also miss other important documents from Medicare, like your summary notices, which details the doctor visits, services and supplies billed to Medicare in your name every three months.
You can update your address in just a couple minutes through your My Social Security account.
Don’t have an online Social Security account? You can also call SSA’s national customer service line at 800-772-1213 to update your mailing address.
You’ll also need to update your address with the private insurance companies that administer other Medicare benefits:
- Medicare supplement insurance policy, also known as Medigap
- Part D prescription drug plan
- Private insurance for specific areas such as dental, hearing and vision
How Long Does it Take to Get a Medicare Card Replacement?
It usually takes a month for your card to arrive in the mail at your address on file with the Social Security Administration.
If you need your card sooner, you can always print it from your Medicare account in a just a few minutes.
Write down your Medicare number in a safe place for future reference. You don’t always need the physical card to get care and benefits.
Why Your Medicare Card Is Important
Your Medicare card is your key to health insurance coverage. It verifies your benefits and also allows providers to submit claims for your treatment.
You’ll need to present your card whenever you visit a health care provider, like your doctor or the ER.
You’ll also need the information on your card to join a Medicare health plan or prescription drug plan, or to buy a Medigap policy.
If you want to make changes to your coverage during Medicare open enrollment, you should have your Medicare card on hand.
Your Medicare card displays the following information:
- Your name.
- Your Medicare ID number, also known as your Medicare beneficiary identifier (MBI).
- Start dates of your Part A and Part B coverage.
It’s important to keep your Medicare card safe. While Medicare cards no longer display your Social Security number, bad actors can still use your card number to commit Medicare identity theft.
You can report Medicare identity theft and suspected fraud by calling the U.S. Health and Human Services hotline at 800-447-8477.
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for Codetic.