Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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  • Edited By
    Matt Mauney
    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for ChicagoTribune.com, LATimes.com, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

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  • Reviewed By
    Joe Benish
    Joe Benish, Medicare Expert & RetireGuide Reviewer

    Joe Benish

    Licensed Agent at Insuractive

    As a licensed insurance agent specializing in providing seniors with Medicare-related products, Joe Benish knows how daunting it can be to learn about Medicare and all of the options available. That’s why he spends his time getting to know his clients and helping them select the right plans for them from the more than 15 insurance companies he represents.

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  • Published: May 7, 2020
  • Updated: January 31, 2023
  • 12 min read time
  • This page features 4 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

A licensed insurance professional reviewed this page for accuracy and compliance with the CMS Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) and Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) carriers’ guidelines.

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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Turner, T. (2023, January 31). Your Medicare Card. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/

MLA Turner, Terry. "Your Medicare Card." RetireGuide.com, 31 Jan 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Your Medicare Card." RetireGuide.com. Last modified January 31, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/.

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Key Takeaways
  • Your Medicare card will arrive by mail after you sign up for Medicare, but the timing and circumstances of your enrollment will determine exactly when you receive it.
  • Your distinctive red, white and blue Medicare card will contain your name, your Medicare ID number, the date your coverage starts and proof of enrollment in Medicare Part A, Part B or both.
  • You will need to present your Medicare card any time you receive medical or health care services.
  • Be careful of sharing your card information to avoid identity theft or other scams.

About Your Medicare Card

Your Medicare card is your proof of Medicare medical insurance. You will need to present it to your doctor or other health care provider if you ever need medical services. It’s important to carry it with you whenever you go to the doctor, pharmacy, hospital or any other health care provider.

When Do You Get Your Medicare Card?

When you receive your Medicare card depends on how and when you enroll in Medicare.

Five Explanations for When You Will Receive Your Medicare Card
Already Receiving Retirement Benefits
You should automatically receive your Medicare card three months before your 65th birthday.
You Are Receiving Disability Benefits
You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare after 24 months and should receive your Medicare card in the 25th month.
You Are Almost 65 But Not Receiving Retirement Benefits
You must manually enroll in Medicare during your enrollment period and your Medicare card should arrive within 30 days.
You Have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare the same month your disability benefits begin, and you should receive your card shortly after that.
You Have End-Stage Renal Disease
You can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B at any time after your diagnosis whether you are 65 or not. Your card should arrive shortly after that.

What’s on a Medicare Card?

Your Medicare card will provide doctors, hospitals and other health care providers with all the information they will need to determine what kind of Medicare coverage you have and how much to bill Medicare for your medical services.

Medicare Card Sample
Source: Medicare.gov
The Four Things on Your Medicare Card
  1. Your full name.
  2. Your Medicare identification number.
  3. Whether you have Medicare Part A, Part B or both.
  4. The date your Medicare coverage starts.

How Do You Apply for a Medicare Card?

You apply for your Medicare card when you first enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B or both. There are four different options for manually enrolling in Medicare.

How to Apply for a Medicare Card
  • Apply for Medicare online at the Social Security Administration website.
  • Apply over the phone by calling Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778).
  • You can apply in person at your local Social Security office.
  • Railroad workers can apply by calling the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users should call 1-312-751-4701).

Using Your Medicare Card

You’ll need to have your Medicare card with you any time you have any medical-related visits or services. This is true even if you have Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage or Medigap supplemental insurance.

Your regular doctor may make a copy of your card on your first visit so they will have it readily available on file. But pharmacies, testing labs, some doctors and other health care providers will require you to show it on each visit.

Be sure to let your doctor or other health care provider know if you’ve received a replacement or updated Medicare card. They will need the new information.

Avoiding Medicare Scams

Your Medicare card has information on it that identity thieves may attempt to steal from you. You should keep your card in a safe place and never share the information on it with anyone other than your health care providers or your other insurers.

Be careful about sharing your Medicare card information with people who call you. Medicare or someone representing the program will only call you under two circumstances.

  1. A member of a Medicare health or drug plan or the agent you worked with may call you but only if you’ve already joined the plan.
  2. If a customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) returns a call you made after you left a message.

You can share your information with trusted organizations and agencies that work with Medicare such as your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

Report Identity Theft
If you think someone has used your Medicare card illegally, call your local police or the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4339 (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048).

If you get a call from someone asking for your Medicare card number or other personal information, you should hang up and call Medicare immediately at 1-800-633-4227.
Source: U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Don't Leave Your Health to Chance
Find a local Medicare plan that fits your needs by connecting with a licensed GoHealth insurance agent.

Replacing Your Medicare Card

If your Medicare card is lost, stolen or damaged, you can apply for a replacement card online through the My Social Security Account at the Social Security website. You will have to set up an account if you haven’t already done so.

How to Apply for a Replacement Medicare Card Online
  1. Log in to My Social Security Account.
  2. Select “Replacement Documents.”
  3. Select “Mail my replacement Medicare Card.”

Your replacement card will be mailed to your address on file with Social Security. It should arrive in the mail in about 30 days.

You will receive a new Medicare ID number when you apply for a replacement card. If you need your new number before the replacement card arrives, you can log on to myMedicare.gov and print out an official copy of your new card.

You can also apply for a replacement card over the phone at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048).


Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Card

How can I get my Medicare number without my card?
You can find your Medicare number by signing into your account at MyMedicare.gov. If you don’t have an account, you should set it up as soon as you enroll in Medicare. You can also call Medicare Customer Service at 1-800-663-4227 (TTY at 1-877-486-2048).
Is your Medicare card the same as your Social Security card?
Your Medicare card is different from your Social Security card. Each has a different, unique number that identifies you. Your Medicare ID and Social Security numbers are not the same.
Can you laminate your Medicare card?
Laminating your Medicare card can damage the card’s security features. Medicare recommends that you instead purchase a plastic ID card holder to protect your card.

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Last Modified: January 31, 2023

4 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Social Security Administration. (2022, July 28). How Do I Get a Replacement Medicare Card? Retrieved from https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-01735
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Get Started With Medicare. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Your Medicare Card. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/using-medicare/your-medicare-card
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Identity Theft: Protect Yourself. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10111-Protecting-Yourself-and-Medicare.pdf