How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card

Woman wearing a heart-shaped sign reading ‘Medicare Keeps Me Ticking’
Senior Citizens Rally To Protect Medicare Program. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

While you might not really need to replace a lost Social Security card, as a Medicare beneficiary, your red, white, and blue Medicare card is one of the most important pieces of identification you own. Your Medicare card is proof that you are enrolled in Original Medicare and is often needed in order to receive medical services or medications covered by Medicare.

Should your Medicare card be lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, it is important that you replace it as soon as possible.

While Medicare benefits, payments, and covered services are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare cards are issued and replaced by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

How to Replace Your Card

You can replace your Medicare card in any of the following ways:

  • Log on to your account and select “Replacement Medicare card.” If you have not created your MyMdicare account, it's easy, secure, and a really good idea. 
  • Request a replacement card online from the Social Security Administration. “SSA uses the highest commercially available encryption to ensure that a beneficiary’s confidential information is secure as it travels over the Internet,” promises the SSA.
  • Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
  • Visit your area Social Security office.

No matter how you order a replacement Medicare card, you will need to provide personal information including your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, and phone number.

Replacement Medicare cards are sent to the last mailing address you have on file with the Social Security Administration, so always notify the SSA when you move.

According to the SSA, your replacement Medicare card will arrive in the mail about 30 days after you request it.

If You Need Proof of Coverage Sooner

If you need proof that you have Medicare sooner than 30 days, you also can request a letter which you will receive in about 10 days.

If you ever need immediate proof of Medicare coverage to see a doctor of get a prescription, you should call or visit your local Social Security office.

Note that if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, other Medicare health plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, contact your plan to replace a lost or damaged membership card.

Taking Care of Your Medicare Card: The ID Theft Threat

You have probably noticed that the beneficiary identification number on your Medicare card is simply your Social Security number, plus one or two capital letters. Probably not the best idea, but that’s just the way it is.

Since your Medicare card has your Social Security number on it, losing it or having it stolen could expose you to identity theft.

As with your Social Security card and Social Security number, never tell your Medicare ID number or give your Medicare card to anyone except your doctor, health care provider or Medicare representative. If you are married, you and your spouse should have separate Medicare cards and ID numbers. 

In order to have Medicare pay for your services, some doctors, pharmacies and other health care providers may require you to bring your Medicare card with you each time you go to them.

But at all other times, you should not carry your Medicare card around with you. Instead, leave it home in a safe place.

Finally, if you think someone is using your Medicare ID number or Social Security number you should:

  • Create an Identity Theft Report online using the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Identity Theft reporting tool. An Identity Theft Report gives you some important rights that can help you recover from the theft.
  • For additional information, call the Federal Trade Commission's ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY users 1-877-486-2048). 
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Theft, But Be Careful of Identity. "How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card." ThoughtCo, Dec. 4, 2016, Theft, But Be Careful of Identity. (2016, December 4). How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card. Retrieved from Theft, But Be Careful of Identity. "How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 19, 2018).