• Written by
    Lindsey Crossmier

    Lindsey Crossmier

    Financial Writer

    Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.

    Read More
  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury, editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.

    Read More
  • Reviewed By
    Aflak Chowdhury
    Aflak Chowdhury

    Aflak Chowdhury

    Medicare Expert

    Aflak Chowdhury is a Medicare expert and independent insurance broker specializing in group health insurance. He has worked for major providers including Humana and Principal Financial Group and today works mainly in the small group market.

    Read More
  • Published: May 7, 2020
  • Updated: April 27, 2023
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 7 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.

Cite Us
How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Crossmier, L. (2023, April 27). Your Medicare Card. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 17, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "Your Medicare Card." RetireGuide.com, 27 Apr 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "Your Medicare Card." RetireGuide.com. Last modified April 27, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/customer-service/medicare-card/.

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Key Principles

RetireGuide’s mission is to provide seniors with resources that will help them reach important financial decisions that affect their retirement. Our goal is to arm our readers with knowledge that will lead to a healthy and financially sound retirement.

We’re dedicated to providing thoroughly researched Medicare information that guides you toward making the best possible health decisions for you and your family.

RetireGuide LLC has partnerships with Senior Market Sales (SMS) and GoHealth.

Our partners are able to be reached through the phone numbers and/or forms provided on our website.

The content and tools created by RetireGuide adhere to strict Medicare and editorial guidelines to ensure quality and transparency.

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While the experts from our partners are available to help you navigate various Medicare plans, RetireGuide retains complete editorial control over the information it publishes.

We operate independently from our partners, which allows the award-winning RetireGuide team to provide you with unbiased information.

Visitors can trust our inflexibility regarding our editorial autonomy. We do not allow our partnership to influence RetireGuide’s editorial content whatsoever.

How Do You Get Your Medicare Card?

You’ll get your Medicare card in your welcome package, which will be mailed to you by Medicare. You’ll receive the welcome package in one of three scenarios.

You’ll receive a Medicare card if you:
  • Signed up for Medicare through Social Security
  • Signed up for Social Security retirement benefits (at age 65 or older)
  • Automatically enrolled in Medicare with less than 3 months before coverage starts
If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should carry the card from your private insurer for most medical services and store the Medicare card in a safe place.

Can You Access Your Card Online?

If you don’t want to wait for your welcome packet to be mailed, you can get your Medicare card online. Log in to your Medicare account to access and print out your Medicare card.

However, the Medicare card you print out should be a temporary solution. The card that will be sent to you by Medicare is more durable and can withstand use and fading over time, unlike computer paper.

Does Medicare Automatically Send You a Card?

Yes — Medicare will automatically send you a Medicare card after you finish signing up for Medicare or Social Security benefits. On average, your Medicare card should take two weeks to arrive.

Note that if you automatically enroll in Medicare due to disability, you will receive your Medicare card two weeks after Social Security approves your benefits.

If you’re already receiving retirement benefits, you will receive your Medicare card three months before your coverage starts.

Medicare will not automatically send you a new card every year. You should get your first card automatically, then you are responsible for ordering a replacement card should your card get damaged or lost.

Have you selected your 2024 Medicare plan?
Maximize your Medicare savings by connecting with a licensed insurance agent. Annual Enrollment is open until December 7th.

How To Get a Replacement Medicare Card

You can order a replacement Medicare card from the Social Security Administration or Medicare.

Call the Medicare customer service line at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) if you want a replacement card from Medicare. You also have the option to print out a temporary replacement card on your Medicare account.

If you want to order a replacement card from the Social Security Administration, you will need to log in to your Social Security account. Once you’re logged in, select the “Medicare Enrollment Detail” section, and then click “Replace Your Medicare Card.” Select “Mail My Replacement Medicare Card,” and your replacement card should arrive within 30 days.

You can also contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to request a replacement Medicare card over the phone.

What Does a Medicare Card Look Like?

A Medicare card is red, white and blue and says “Medicare Health Insurance” at the top. The card will have four sections of information.

The Four Sections 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
Medicare Card Sample
Source: Medicare.gov

Part D & Medigap Medicare Cards

Part D and Medigap plans both have different cards that come from your chosen provider. Your card for Original Medicare doesn’t include this type of information or coverage, so make sure you have all your cards on you to avoid coverage issues at your appointments.

While all Original Medicare cards will look the same, your Part D and Medigap cards will vary in appearance since you can get them from different insurers.

Medicare and Medigap sample cards

Avoiding Medicare Scams

Your Medicare number is private, personalized information, so it’s important to avoid scams from fraudulent operators.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services suggest treating your Medicare number like your credit card — don’t share the information with anyone who contacts you by phone, email or in person unless you contacted them first and gave them permission to contact you.

You should only share your Medicare number with your health care providers, insurer or people who you trust that work directly with Medicare.

Another scam circulating is operators claiming that Medicare is switching from paper cards to a plastic chip card. This is not true. If someone contacts you trying to get your Medicare number to update to a plastic chip card — do not respond.

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.

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

Can You Laminate Your Medicare Card?

While you can legally laminate your Medicare card — you shouldn’t. Laminating your important identification cards can prevent detection of security features, according to the Social Security Administration.

Pro Tip
If you want to protect your Medicare card, use a plastic ID card holder sleeve instead of lamination.

Commonly Asked Medicare Card Questions

How long does it take to get a Medicare card after applying?
Beneficiaries typically receive their Medicare card two weeks after applying.
How do I get my Medicare card from Social Security?
You will receive your Medicare card through the mail from Social Security automatically after you sign up for Medicare.
Does Medicare send a new card every year?
No, Medicare does not send a new card every year. Keep your card in a safe place to avoid it from getting lost or stolen. Should you lose or damage your card, you can order a replacement through Medicare or the Social Security Administration.
Last Modified: April 27, 2023

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. Social Security Administration. (2022, October 7). Can I Laminate My Social Security Card? Retrieved from https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-02202
  2. AARP. (2022, February 11). How Do I Order a Replacement Medicare Card? Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-qa-tool/how-to-replace-a-medicare-card/
  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. (2022). Welcome to Medicare package (Automatically Enrolled). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/forms-publications-mailings/mailings/signing-up/get-ready-for-medicare-package
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). “Welcome to Medicare” package (Not Automatically Enrolled). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/forms-publications-mailings/mailings/signing-up/welcome-to-medicare-package
  6. Roche, B. (2022, February 25). Fraudsters Use Plastic Card Scam to Target People on Medicare. Retrieved from https://www.wgal.com/article/fraudsters-use-plastic-card-scam-to-target-people-on-medicare/39234000
  7. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). How Do I Get a New Medicare Card if My Card Is Lost, Stolen, or Damaged? How Do I Change My Contact Information? Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/how-do-i-replace-my-medicare-card/index.html