Medicare Card 101
Your Medicare card represents many things. It may represent a life of working hard and finally coming into the retirement stage of life, or it may represent coverage you are entitled to because of disability, ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease), or Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Although these scenarios are very different, they all have Medicare coverage in common. Being a Medicare beneficiary means that your red, white, and blue card plays a major role in your life when it comes to receiving health care services.
Medicare Card Arrival
Once you enroll in Medicare, you will receive your Medicare card in the mail. If you are automatically enrolled in Medicare, you will receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday. If you are eligible for Medicare due to disability, you will receive your Medicare card on the 25th month of your disability benefits. If you enroll yourself in Medicare, your card will arrive around three weeks after you apply for Medicare.
You will be enrolled in Medicare automatically if you have disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months or certain disabilities from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months.
Laminating Your Medicare Card
Since your card is very important, many people want to keep it in the best shape possible since you may find yourself removing it in and out of your wallet. While it is not illegal to laminate your Medicare card, the Social Security Administration advises against it since the plastic may interfere with the card’s security features. You Medicare card comes as a paper card, which also makes it easy for your health care provider’s office to make a copy of it. To keep it protected, try using a clear card holder.
If you find yourself changing your name, it is important to make sure you notify Social Security so they can issue a new card. Thankfully, you do not have to pay for a new one to be issued. This is a free service. However, if you are needing to change the name on your Medicare card, you will not be able to do so online. You will need to provide the required documents to prove your citizenship, age, and identity. To prove your citizenship, you will either need to provide your birth certificate or passport. To prove your age, you will need to give your birth certificate if it exists. If it does not exist, then you will either need a religious record before age five to show your date of birth, a U.S. passport, or a U.S. hospital record of your birth. To prove your identity, you will either need your U.S. driver’s license, a State-issued identification card, or a U.S. passport. Along with these required documents, you will need to complete an application for a new Social Security card. You may either take these documents to your local Social Security office or mail them.
Keep in mind that Social Security does not accept photocopies or notarized copies of these documents. They must be the original or a certified copy from the organization that issued the initial document. The documents you provide to Social Security will be returned to you. After your application is processed by Social Security, your new card should arrive around 10-14 business days. This will not affect your Social Security number, that will remain the same.
Q: If I change my name on my Social Security card, will Medicare automatically send me a new card in the mail?
No. If you decide to mail in the required documents to change the name on your Social Security card, then you will need to call Social Security to request for an updated Medicare card to be sent to you. If you choose to go to your local office to provide the required documents, be sure to tell the office you need an updated Medicare card as well.
Lost Medicare Card
If your Medicare card is lost, stolen, or faded, there is an easy fix! You can either:
- Log on to your mymedicare.gov account and print a replace card or choose for one to be mailed to you.
- Log on to your Social Security account on ssa.gov, navigate to the “Replacement Documents” tab, and select “Mail my replacement Medicare card.”
- Call Medicare (1-800-633-4227) and request for one to be mailed to you.
- Visit your local Social Security office.
If you order your replacement card, it should arrive in the mail in 30 days. Be sure to verify your address to make sure it does not need to be updated.
If you became eligible for Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board and need a replacement card, call (1-877-772-5772), visit a local office, or log on to their website at www.rrb.gov.
It is important that you only provide your Medicare card information to doctors, pharmacists, certain health care providers, your insurers, or individuals you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf (medicare.gov). Keep in mind that Medicare will never call you unsolicited and request personal information. You may be threatened to have your health care benefits cancelled, someone may ask you for money, or request for you to release personal information. If this happens, hang up and call Medicare.
Q: I think someone might be using my Medicare card, what do I do?
If you feel that someone is committing Medicare fraud, you may contact Medicare, the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Resource Center (877-808-2468), or the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at (1-800-447-8477).
Q: How do I look for signs of Medicare Fraud?
Similar to a debit or credit card being stolen, if your Medicare card is stolen, be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Some examples of these activities are: Medicare being billed for services you did not receive or different than the services you received, a provider offering to perform services you do not need as an excuse to bill Medicare, or receive advice from a healthcare professional that Medicare will cover something that it does not.
If you have any additional questions about your Medicare card or Medicare in general, give MWG Senior Services a call at (877) 759-5760. A certified advisor will help walk you through everything you need to know about Medicare. As an added bonus of having your personal Medicare advisor, our services are always free. No, it’s not too good to be true – call us today and find out!