When you enroll in Medicare you receive a printed card from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This card contains your health care insurance information and is necessary to prove that you have Medicare coverage.
If you apply for Medicare yourself – either online, over the phone, or at a local CMS office – you’ll get your card in the mail approximately three weeks later together with your Medicare welcome packet. If the Social Security Administration enrolls you in Medicare automatically, you’ll get your ID card and welcome packet about two months prior to your 65th birthday or the 25th month of receiving Social Security disability benefits.
How do you get your Medicare identification card?
When you’re eligible for Medicare, CMS working through the Department of Health and Human Services, sends you a Welcome to Medicare packet that includes the following:
- Your Medicare ID card
- An introductory letter with information about your Medicare enrollment
- A printed request for application for enrollment in Medicare Part B (if you haven’t enrolled yet)
- A Medicare information booklet
- An envelope addressed to the Social Security Administration that you can use to return your application request for enrollment in Medicare Part B
Your Medicare ID card should arrive in the mail well in advance of your needing to use it for the first time. If you haven’t received it by your 65th birthday, or after the 25th month of receiving Social Security disability benefits, you should contact the Social Security Administration to ensure that they have your correct address on file.
What does your Medicare identification card look like?
Your official Medicare card is printed on paper and isn’t made of plastic. This is so health care providers can make photocopies more easily. Your card has a blue banner at the top and a red stripe at the bottom. The blue banner includes a symbol and the words
“Medicare Health Insurance.”
The information included on your card is your full name, your unique Medicare ID number, which parts of Medicare you’re enrolled in (Hospital Benefits (Part A) and/or Medical Benefits (Part B), etc.), and the date that your coverage begins.
The number on your card is your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) or Medicare number. It’s made up of 11 randomly assigned numbers and digits that can’t identify you or provide any information related to you personally outside of Medicare.
You should treat your Medicare card and MBI as if it were a credit card. Don’t give your personal information to anyone who calls on the phone asking for this information out of the blue. You can safely give your personal Medicare information to health care providers, your insurance company, health insurance plan providers, or Medicare agents.
You need your Medicare card to join a Medicare Supplement (Medigap plan) or a Prescription Drug Plan. If you join a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, your provider will give you a dedicated plan card, but keep your original Medicare card safe in case you decide to switch to another plan later.
If you enroll in Original Medicare (Part A, Part B, or both), you should carry your Medicare card, or a copy of it, whenever you’re away from home. You’ll need your card when you visit health care providers, physicians, and hospitals, or when you receive other types of health care services or supplies.