Your red, white, and blue Medicare Card is proof of your enrollment in Medicare Part A and B. The card is required by doctors and pharmacists in order for you to receive covered medical treatment and prescription drugs.
When do I receive it?
Your card will be automatically mailed to you along with an explanation of Medicare benefits and other information. This package should arrive about 90 days before your 65th birthday if you are scheduled to receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. If you are still working or will otherwise not receive these benefits, you must manually enroll in the Medicare program to receive your welcome package and card.
What information is on it?
Your Medicare card includes your name and Medicare claim number, as well as which parts of Medicare you are enrolled in. You must sign the card before using it. Enrollees in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Parts C and D will be issued a separate card for those plans.
Note that your Medicare claim number will be the same as your Social Security number if you qualified for Medicare under your own work history. If you qualify for Medicare under your spouse’s work history, your Medicare claim number will be his or her Social Security number followed by a letter. Thus it is very important that you keep your card in a safe place.
Why do I need it?
You may be required to show your Medicare card before receiving covered healthcare services at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or laboratory. Other healthcare providers may require the card as well. If you have questions about your coverage and need to contact Medicare for help, you will need your card for reference purposes.
What do I do if I lose it?
If your Medicare card is lost or stolen, you will need to call the National Social Security Hotline at 1-800-772-1213 to order a new one. You may also order one online or at in person at a Social Security office.
If you receive your Medicare benefits via the Railroad Retirement Board, your new card may be ordered by contacting your local office or calling 1-877-772-5772.
Your card will be mailed to you within 30 days. You may request a letter proving Medicare coverage which should reach you in about 10 days. If you need proof of coverage immediately, you should visit your local Social Security office in person.
Protecting yourself from fraudulent use of your Medicare number
Fraudulent use of your Medicare card can be easily prevented. Keep your card private as you would a credit card. Never give out your Medicare number via the phone or to a stranger. Do not allow your friends or family to use your Medicare card.
You should monitor your credit reports and your Medicare statements with care. If you see any unusual activity or suspect your card has been used fraudulently, contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-447-8477.