How to Get a Replacement Medicare Card

Just be careful of identity theft

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:

According to Medicare Interactive, if you receive Medicare health or drug benefits from a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as an HMO, PPO, or PDP, you need to contact your plan to get your plan card replaced. If you receive Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board, call 877-772-5772 for a replacement Medicare card.

No matter how you order your replacement, you will need to provide some basic 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 or get a prescription, you should call or visit your local Social Security office.

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 give your Medicare ID number or 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, leave your card at home in a safe place.

CMS Issues New ID Theft-Resistant Medicare Cards

Image of new Medicare card issued starting in April 2018
New Medicare card issued starting in April 2018. Medicare.gov / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began mailing new “ID theft-resistant” Medicare cards to the more than 60 million people covered by the federal health plan. The new card replaces the recipient’s Social Security number with an 11-character Medicare identifier that contains both numbers and letters.

While the cards are safer, CMS warns that criminals are still trying to scam people. Calls to the AARP’s fraud helpline revealed that recipients have received calls from scammers posing as CMS employees asking for a fee in order to deliver the new card, or asking for personal information before a new card can be issued. These calls are bogus since the new cards are fee and will be mailed automatically.

According to the CMS, “Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.”

Suspicious calls can be reported to the CMS by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Consumers can also call their local Senior Medicare Patrol, a federally funded service for people on Medicare and their families.