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  • Medicare Experience

Your Medicare Card: An Illustrated Guide

Learn all about your Medicare card with our helpful illustrated guide.
Image of a Medicare Card with text: "Getting to Know Your Medicare Card"

Once you have enrolled in Medicare, your Medicare card will be on its way from Social Security. Look for this card in the mail.


For those of you that are automatically enrolled in Medicare, you will receive your Medicare card in the mail 3 months prior to your 65th birthday. If this does not apply to you then your card will arrive by mail once you have enrolled in Medicare.


It's important that you keep your card in a safe yet accessible place, as you will need it for reference and for use from time to time.


For example, when you visit the doctor’s office or hospital, you will need to present your Medicare card. Your card confirms that you have insurance and will also help insure that an accurate billing process takes place.


Throughout this guide, we’ll give you a look at what information your Medicare card contains, as well as detail the scenarios in which you will need to use it.



What Does the Medicare Card Look Like?


For starters, your Medicare card is paper material (not plastic). The front of the card is colored red, white, and blue (blue at the top, white in the middle, red on the bottom). It will resemble the image represented here:


The front of a Medicare card.

On the flip side, the back of the card has blue text that includes Medicare’s phone number and website at the bottom. It will resemble the image represented here:


The back of a Medicare card.


What Information Does the Medicare Card Include?


Your Medicare card includes several pieces of pertinent information that you will likely need to reference from time to time.


For this reason, it’s important that you always have your card with you when visiting a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider. For your own reference, we’ll go over the information that your Medicare card contains.


For starters, your Medicare card has your name listed near the top-left corner of the card under “Name/Nombre.”


Medicare card with highlighted name section


Where Is My Medicare Number Listed?


On the left side of your card, listed below your name, is your unique Medicare number listed under “Medicare Number/Número de Medicare.”


Medicare card with highlighted Medicare number section.

This 11-character identifier is unique to you. Your Medicare number includes 4 letters that have specific spots in the Medicare number sequence.


There will be a letter in spots 2, 5, 8, and 9 of your Medicare number. There will be a number in spots 1, 4, 7, 10, 11. Spots 3 and 6 can be filled with either a letter or a number.


Additionally, it may be helpful to know that every Medicare number avoids use of the letters B, I, L, O, S, and Z. This step is taken to avoid possible confusion, as these letters are sometimes mistaken for numbers.



Where Is My Coverage Type Listed?


On the left side of your card, listed below your Medicare number, is the title: “Entitled to/Con derecho a.” This is the Medicare coverage you are entitled to.


Your card will show the Medicare coverage you have, whether you have Part A coverage, Part B coverage, or both.


Medicare card with highlighted coverage section.


Where Do I Find My Coverage Start Date?


Near the bottom right corner of your card, across from your Medicare coverage type, is the title: “Coverage starts/Cobertura empieza,”


This is your Medicare coverage start date. The date listed on your card is the date your coverage begins. If you have both Part A and Part B coverage, there will be a corresponding date listed for each.


Otherwise, there will be one date to correspond with either your Part A or Part B coverage.


Medicare card with highlighted coverage start date section.


Where Is the Contact Number for Medicare?


If at any point you need to contact a Medicare representative, the number for Medicare is listed on the back of your card at the very bottom.


The contact number for the Medicare help line is 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227 / 1-877-486-2048). Also, listed below the phone number is the Medicare website: Medicare.gov.


Back of Medicare card with highlighted contact information section.



New Medicare Card vs. Old Medicare Card


From April 2018 – April 2019, new Medicare cards were mailed out to all Medicare enrollees. These new cards changed in appearance from the old cards and made a few additional changes, as well.



Social Security Number Replaced:


On the new card, Medicare has removed your Social Security Number that was listed under the title: “Medicare Claim Number.”


Before this change, any lost or stolen card would mean that the card owner was immediately at risk for Medicare fraud.


Old Medicare card with crossed out claim number section.

The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), commonly known as your Medicare number, took the place of the Social Security Number on the new card. Each Medicare Beneficiary Identifier is unique to the enrollee.



Gender of Beneficiary Removed From Front of Card:


Old Medicare card with crossed out gender section.


Signature Removed From Front of Card:


Old Medicare card with crossed out signature section.


Medicare Phone Number Removed From Front of Card:


Old Medicare card with crossed out contact number section.


As of April 2019, Medicare has completed the new card mailings to all the current beneficiaries. If you never received your new card, it’s important that you contact a Medicare representative as soon as possible.


Medicare Phone Number: 1-800-633-4227


While you still had the ability to use your old card until January 1, 2020, this date has since passed. You will need to switch to your new card for all of your future uses.



When Will I Receive My Medicare Card?


If you are already receiving benefits from Social Security, then you will receive your Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday. There’s no further effort required on your end.


If this doesn’t apply to you, then you will receive your card once you enroll in Medicare. In general, people receive their Medicare card in the following month after signing up.


If you didn’t receive your Medicare card by your 65thbirthday, or feel like you should have received it by this point since your enrollment, contact Medicare at: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


A Medicare official can inform you of its status and whether or not there is a problem that’s holding it up.



Using Your Medicare Card


When it comes to using your Medicare card, note that you will always use your Medicare card when visiting a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider.


Presenting your card during these visits helps your healthcare providers accurately submit your medical bills to Medicare for payment.


With this in mind, it’s actually a smart practice to always carry your card with you whenever leaving the house. Unfortunately, you just never know when you might need to present this information, such as in the case of an emergency.


If you do forget your card, however, this usually isn’t a problem. In some cases, your healthcare provider can look up your Medicare ID number. However, the best practice is always to provide your own Medicare card.


It’s important to note that if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, Part D prescription drug plan, or a Medicare Supplement plan, you will be mailed a separate membership card in addition to your Original Medicare card.


You will need to provide this separate card alongside your Medicare card in order to allow your healthcare provider to bill your supplemental plan for the out-of-pocket costs.



Using Your Medicare Advantage Plan Card


If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will use your separate Medicare Advantage plan card instead of your Medicare card when visiting your doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider.


Your Medicare Advantage plan card will serve as your main card. If your plan covers prescription drug coverage, you will also use this card at the pharmacy.


Even though your Medicare Advantage plan card will serve as your main card, be sure to keep your Original Medicare card handy and in a safe location. On occasion you may be asked to provide this information, as well.



Using Your Medicare Part D Plan Card


If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan, you will use your separate Part D plan card when at the pharmacy.


Your Part D plan card will allow you to get your prescriptions filled, as Original Medicare does not cover prescription drug costs.



Using Your Medicare Supplement Card (Medigap)


If you are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap plan, you will provide your separate Medigap plan card along with your Original Medicare card when visiting your healthcare providers.


Your Medigap plan card will help to cover copayments and other out-of-pocket costs that your Original Medicare does not cover.



How Do I Change Information on My Medicare Card?


From time to time you may find that you need to update the information on your Medicare card. To make changes to your information, visit your online Social Security account here: ssa.gov/myaccount


Or, if you would rather do so by phone, you can call:


Social Security: 1-800-772-1213

TTY Users: 1-800-325-0778


Keeping this information up-to-date is important. This way you won’t miss any relevant updates or notices.


Medicare uses the information from your Social Security file as the information on your card. So, if you need to update your name or address, be sure to do so in your Social Security account.



How Do I Replace My Medicare Card?


If you lose or damage your Medicare card, you can easily replace it by visiting your MyMedicare.gov account and printing a new one or by calling Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to receive a replacement by mail.


Visiting your MyMedicare.gov account to replace your card is the quickest option. Through your online account you can print an official copy of your card. You can do this all on your own without contacting a Medicare representative.


If you don’t already have a MyMedicare.gov account, you can set one up at this time to print your replacement.


However, if you don’t have access to an online account or are unable to print a copy, you also have the option of calling Medicare for a replacement:


1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

TTY Users: 1-877-486-2048


If you call Medicare for a replacement card, your card should arrive in the mail within 30 days. However, if you don’t receive your replacement card by this time, contact Medicare to address any potential problems.


Also, keep in mind that your replacement card will be mailed to the address you have on file with Social Security, so be sure this information is up-to-date.



Protecting Against Medicare Card Scams


In recent years, Medicare has taken some helpful and practical steps toward securing your Medicare card and information.


For example, as we noted earlier, the new Medicare card now uses a unique Medicare ID number in place of where your Social Security number was on the old card.


While this was an important step forward in protecting against Medicare fraud, there remains the need to be vigilant in your own protective efforts.


Protect your Medicare card. You want to treat your Medicare Card like you would your Social Security card or credit card. Protect your Medicare card and share it only with your doctor and trusted recipients.


Never give out your Medicare number. Never give out your Medicare number (or Social Security number), unless it is to a trusted recipient. Keeping this information safe goes a long way in protecting yourself against fraud.


When sharing your information, always err on the side of caution. The only people you should provide with your Medicare information are your doctor, pharmacist, healthcare provider, insurance provider, or a trusted companion that assists with your healthcare.


If you believe that your personal information is being misused, immediately contact one of these departments for assistance:


Medicare: 1-800-633-4227

FTC ID Theft Hotline: 1-877-438-4338

Department of Health & Human Services Fraud Hotline: 1-800-447-8477




Up Next: How to Avoid Medicare Fraud




Helpful Resources:

Medicare: Your Medicare Card

Medicare: New Medicare Card

CMS: New Medicare Card

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