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How do you get a new Medicare card?

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Just the essentials...
  • Your Medicare enrollment card is essential to receive coverage from physicians
  • You must be at least 65 and have lived in the US for five years continuously to receive Medicare benefits
  • A Medicare card should arrive in the 25th month after you received your first disability Social Security check
  • Don’t delay in contacting your provider if you haven’t received your Medicare card by the expected date. There may be a paperwork issue or, in some cases, someone else has received your card by mistake

A traditional Medicare card is red, white, and blue. The card is proof that you are a Medicare enrollee. As a Medicare beneficiary, it is the most important piece of identification you will have.

To receive most medical services or services covered by Medicare, you will need to present your card to be eligible.

Since this identification card is so important, it is vital that individuals know when they will receive this card.

Enter your ZIP above and compare Medicare plans in your state for free to make sure you have the right plan for you!

Who should expect a Medicare ID Card?

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Medicare is available to American citizens or legal permanent residents. Permanent residents must be 65 years old and have lived in the US continuously for five years.

Some exceptions to this rule are if someone qualifies for Medicare through disability.

Individuals Already Receiving Retirement Benefits

If you are already receiving retirement benefits such as Social Security or benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, you will receive your Medicare card automatically. The card should arrive by mail about three months before your 65th birthday.

If you are already receiving benefits, you automatically receive Medicare Part A benefits. Part A is considered hospital insurance. You do not automatically receive Medicare Part B. Instead, you will need to enroll in Medicare Part B when you apply for retirement benefits.

Individuals Receiving Disability Benefits

Disabled man with wheelchair entering car

If you are not 65 years old and receiving Social Security or RRB benefits as part of a disability claim, you will get a Medicare card after 24 months of receiving disability payments. A Medicare card should arrive in the 25th month after you received your first disability Social Security check.

The rules mentioned above apply to most individuals receiving disability benefits, but there are exceptions to the rule. People diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) may qualify for Medicare as soon as their disability benefits are approved.

For patients with Lou Gehrig disease, Medicare coverage can begin simultaneously with Social Security benefits. The coverage will be effective immediately, but it may still take 30 days for the card to arrive by mail.

If a patient needs verification of benefits before 30 days is up, they can get a letter of benefits from a local Social Security office.

Individuals diagnosed with ESRD may enroll in Medicare any time before or after they turn 65 years old. Enrollment for Medicare is manual and most patients qualify for both Part A and B.

Approval of benefits for patients with ESRD is usually very fast, but the 30 days wait for the card to be mailed still applies.

Enrollment isn’t Always Automatic

Medicare enrollment form

If you are nearing your 65th birthday or considering filing for social security disability, it’s important to realize not all persons receive automatic Medicare enrollment.

If you are not yet 65 and aren’t receiving retirement benefits, you will need to enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B, or both.

It is necessary to enroll in Medicare Part A, B, or both during the initial enrollment period (IEP), which is three months before your 65th birthday and lasts seven months after.

Enrollment for these benefits happens at a Social Security office. However, railroad beneficiaries will need to apply through the Railroad Retirement Board.

When your coverage begins will depend on the month in which you set up your IEP. No matter when you apply for this coverage, you should receive your official Medicare card within 30 days of approval.

Medicare Part C and Part D Insurance Cards

The information mentioned above is in regards to just Medicare Part A and B. If you are expecting a Medicare Part C or D card, the process is a bit different.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) insurance cards are issued by private insurance companies. The benefits for this coverage are managed by the private agency and not Medicare.

What this means is Medicare C and D cards will look different than the original red, white, and blue cards. Traditionally, the Medicare C or D card will include the name of the private insurer. The Medicare logo will likely be present as well.

What to Do if You Don’t Receive Your Medicare Card

Old rotary phone

If you don’t receive your Medicare card by mail and you think you should have, don’t delay in finding out what is going on. Many times, beneficiaries believe they should have received their card, but they aren’t actually within the expected time frame yet. Other times, a paperwork problem is delaying the card from arriving.

Whatever the issue may be, it is always better to inquire than just wait and find out. Medicare fraud is a serious problem.

Thieves will steal Medicare information from new and current enrollees and sell the information to people who wouldn’t qualify for the benefits on their own.

To prevent becoming a victim of fraud and to fix any problems with your application, it’s important to inquire about your card if you didn’t receive it when you expected to.

Enter your zip code below to compare private Medicare providers in your state. It only takes a few minutes to get matched with multiple companies and affordable coverage options.

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MedicareInsurance.com is privately owned and operated. MedicareInsurance.com is a non-government asset for people on Medicare, providing resources in easy to understand format. The government Medicare site is www.medicare.gov.

This website and its contents are for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for experienced medical advice. We recommend consulting with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment, including choices about changes to medication, treatments, diets, daily routines, or exercise.

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MULTIPLAN_GHHK5LLEN_Accepted Last Updated 3/18/2018