FAQ: Understanding Your Medicare Card

Medicare can be complicated, beginning with your Medicare card. But don’t’ worry! We have you covered. Here are the frequently asked questions about your Medicare Card:

“How do I read my Medicare Card?”

“When will I receive my Medicare Card?”

When you’re enrolled in Medicare, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail. If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of getting disability benefits. Your Medicare card shows that you have Medicare health insurance. It shows whether you have Part A (HOSPITAL), Part B (MEDICAL), or both, and the date your coverage begins. 

If you have Original Medicare, you’ll use it to get your Medicare-covered services. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan, in most cases, you’ll use your plan’s card to get your Medicare-covered services. You can get all of the Medicare-covered services in this section if you have both Part A and Part B.

“How do I change my name or address?”

Medicare uses the name and address you have on file with Social Security. To change your name, please follow these instructions. To change your address, visit your online my Social Security account.

“Is my Medicare card the only proof of health coverage I’ll need?”

Your Medicare card will not indicate whether you have Medicare Advantage, a Medicare Part D drug plan, or supplemental insurance (such as a Medigap plan). Generally, you’ll get a separate card from your plan administrator for each of these plans. If you have Medicare Advantage or Medigap, it’s a good idea to also carry those cards with you when seeing providers in addition to your regular Medicare card.

“Should I carry my Medicare card with me?”

You should bring your Medicare card along any time you’re visiting a provider to receive medical treatment or going to a pharmacy to fill a prescription –  or when you go to a hospital. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to store your Medicare card in a secure place, like a filing cabinet or safe.

You’ll use your Original Medicare card to fill prescriptions only if they are covered by Medicare Part B (examples include drugs you administer through an infusion pump). In all other cases, you’ll use your Part D prescription drug plan when filling prescriptions. (Medicare Advantage plans often include Part D drug coverage, in which case you’ll use your Advantage plan’s card to fill prescriptions.)

You should not share that card with anyone in a non-medical capacity. For example, your bank does not need a copy of your Medicare card. Remember, even though Medicare cards no longer list Social Security numbers, they still contain personal information, like your unique Medicare ID number, so be careful about who sees that card. Keep in mind that Medicare will not call you over the phone asking you to confirm your personal ID number. If someone calls asking for that, assume it’s a scam.

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“What do I do if I am scammed?”

Scam artists may try to get personal information, like your Medicare Number. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

“What should I do if I don’t receive my Medicare card?”

If you don’t receive your Medicare card, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You can also log onto your Social Security account and make sure the mailing address on file is correct.

“How can I replace my Medicare card?”

If you need to replace your card because it’s damaged or lost, log into your secure Medicare account online at MyMedicare.gov to print an official copy of your Medicare card. You can also use this account to manage your personal and other coverage information (like your drug list and claims status). If you don’t have an account, visit MyMedicare.gov to create one.  

If you need to replace your card because you think that someone else is using your number, call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

5 things the CMS wants you to know about your Medicare card:

  1. Your card has a Medicare Number that’s unique to you. Your Social Security Number is not on your card. This helps to protect your identity. 
  2. Your card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
  3. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare—you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. And, if you have a Medicare drug plan, be sure to keep that card as well.  Even if you use one of these other cards, you also may be asked to show your Medicare card, so keep it with you.
  4. Only give your Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
  5. If you forget your card, you, your doctor, or other health care provider may be able to look up your Medicare Number online. (Read the full article here.)
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