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New to Medicare Series: Part 5

by Rebecca Hambleton    |    Published Oct 01, 2019    |    Reviewed by John Krahnert

What Every New Beneficiary Should Know About Their Medicare Card

Once you’re eligible for Medicare, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. Your Medicare card is how you show doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care providers that you’re enrolled in Medicare, so be sure to bring it with you when you need health care.

But before you schedule your first doctor’s visit, there are some things you should know about your new Medicare card. Keep reading to learn more.

When will I receive my card?

If you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare, you’ll typically receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of getting Social Security Disability Benefits. Learn more about automatically enrollment in our article, “Your Guide to Medicare Enrollment Periods.”

What if I’m not automatically enrolled?

If you’re not automatically enrolled in Medicare, you must manually enroll. You can manually enroll in Original Medicare by:

  • Calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday 7AM-7PM
  • Visiting the Social Security website at www.SocialSecurity.gov
  • Visiting your local Social Security office
  • If you worked for a railroad, you can enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701), Monday through Friday 9AM-3:30PM

Once you sign up for Medicare, Social Security will mail you your Medicare card.

What if it has been longer than 30 days and I have not received my Medicare card in the mail?

If it has been longer than 30 days and you still have not received your Medicare card, we recommend contacting the Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM. If you worked for a railroad, contact the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701), Monday through Friday 9AM-3:30PM.

What information is on my Medicare card?

Your Medicare card is printed with the following information:

  • Your first and last name
  • Your Medicare number. This number is unique to you, but is not your social security number.
  • The Parts of Medicare that you’re enrolled in (Part A, Part B, or both)
  • Coverage start date

What if I have a Medicare Advantage plan?

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, your Medicare Advantage plan card is your primary health insurance card. However, keep your Original Medicare card in a safe place in case you need it.

What if I lose my Medicare card?

If you lose your Medicare card, you can request a new one on the Social Security website or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

What is a red, white and blue card?

A red, white and blue card is another name for your Medicare card. You may hear these terms used interchangeably — they mean exactly the same thing.

What if I haven’t received my Medicare card and I have a doctor’s appointment?

If you’ve signed up for Medicare and are waiting on your card to arrive, you can visit your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM. Social Security may be able to mail you a letter to use as proof of Medicare eligibility until you receive your Medicare card in the mail.

Learn More

There’s a lot to learn about Medicare, and we’re dedicated to getting you the information you need. Read through some of the other guides in this series or speak to a licensed insurance agent.

New to Medicare Series

Part 1: Medicare 101

Part 2: Glossary of Medicare Terms

Part 3: Understanding Your Medicare Out-of-Pocket Costs

Part 4: Your Guide to Medicare Enrollment Periods

Part 5: What Every Medicare Beneficiary Should Know About Their Medicare Card

Part 6: What Original Medicare Covers

Part 7: Exploring Your Medicare Options


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