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Getting and Replacing your red, white and blue Medicare Card

For many who will be new to Medicare, getting your first Medicare card is automatic. That's because enrollment is often automatic. If you expect your enrollment in Medicare to be automatic, then you will receive your red, white and blue Medicare card about three months before your Medicare eligibility date.

If you are getting Social Security disability benefits, you'll get your card about twenty-two months after you begin receiving benefits. Automatic enrollment occurs the 25th month after you receive your first Social Security check. Three months prior to that is the twenty-second month after you retire.

Not everyone is enrolled automatically. Or you may be enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), but not in Medicare Part B (medical insurance). If you must enroll manually, you'll receive your card in about 30 days. For those who are married and have a spouse also eligible for Medicare benefits, he/she should have a separate card and claim number.

sample medicare card

Identification cards for Medicare Parts C and D

Because Medicare parts C and D are through private insurance, you will get a different card from the private insurer. This card will not look the same as the red, white and blue card you received for your original Medicare plan. It will include the name of the private insurer, and possibly a logo indicating your plan type.

Medicare Part C is an alternative to Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare Part D is prescription drug insurance. If you have both, you will have two separate ID cards. However, if your Medicare Part C plan includes prescription drug coverage, you may have a single card for all of your medical and prescription drug needs. Contact your private insurer if you have any questions about your identification card.

Applying for a Medicare card

To manually enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B, log on to the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov and click the link that reads "Apply online for Medicare Now."

Applying for a Medicare card is automatic when you apply for Medicare coverage. Your red, white and blue Medicare card should arrive within 30 days after you are approved for Medicare coverage.

Medicare card replacement

To replace a lost Medicare card (including a stolen or damaged card), visit www.socialsecurity.gov. You will need to provide personal information such as your social security number, date of birth, phone number, and full name.

Be sure to keep your mailing address up to date. Any Medicare card replacements will be sent to the last mailing address on record with the Social Security administration.

Using your Medicare card

Remember the three most important rules for handling your Medicare card.

  • Always take your card with you to the doctor, lab, pharmacy or other health care provider. Even if you haven't completed your deductible, your doctor must still process a claim so you are credited with the expense. If you received a Medicare card replacement, make sure your doctor has the updated card.
  • Never share your Medicare card or your Medicare claim number with anyone except your doctor or health care provider. If you're married, your spouse should have his or her own card. Protect your Medicare card and keep it in a safe place.
  • Have your Medicare card handy whenever you call Medicare with questions.
eHealth Medicare is operated by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a licensed health insurance agency certified to sell Medicare products.
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.