When a person pays Medicare premiums, the card generally renews automatically. Sometimes, the card is not renewed for various reasons.

The Medicare card has a unique number for each person. Every number uses a system called Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) and is not the same as the one used for Social Security.

In this article, we discuss the importance of the Medicare card, look at how to get a new one, and examine the costs.

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In most circumstances, a Medicare card renews automatically.

A Medicare card is a paper identification card that shows a person has health insurance through Medicare. It contains information that hospitals and providers use to bill for services.

When a person is initially enrolled in Medicare, the card is sent to them in the mail. Information on the card includes a person’s Medicare coverage and the date when the coverage started.


The card is red, white, and blue.

Personal information on the card includes:

  • name
  • Medicare number
  • Medicare plan or plans
  • date coverage started

The Medicare number is not a person’s social security number. It is a number unique to the person and connected to their Medicare account.

If a person has a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D drug prescription plan, they will also get a card from the plan. A person should carry all their Medicare cards.


A person should carry their Medicare card with them if they are away from their home.

Doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers need the Medicare number to bill for services. However, if a person has forgotten their card, and needs services, it may be possible for the health care provider to look up the number online.

The information on the Medicare card is confidential. A person should be aware that phone calls asking for card information would only be done in the following circumstances.

  • When a person has enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, the private company may call them.
  • When a person has enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the private company may call them.
  • If a person called Medicare with questions about original Medicare (Part A and Part B), and left a request for a callback, then a representative will call them.

When Medicare calls a person, they already have the person’s Medicare number.

If a person thinks they may have given their Medicare card number to someone who was not authorized to have it, they can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE.

If a person suspects identity theft, they can also contact the Federal Trade Commission.

A person’s Medicare card and Medicare policy will automatically renew every year when they pay the premiums.

People may check their Medicare account and billing on the My Medicare website. A person must set up membership and link their account on the website. It is important that a person’s information is correct, including their mailing address.

When a person is signed into their account, they can do the following actions:

  • See a summary of their health information, including diagnosis and medications.
  • Download a summary of their health information.
  • See their Medicare number.
  • See the date their Medicare coverage began.
  • Check the status of their Medicare claims.
  • Find information on Medicare costs and eligibility.

Sometimes a Medicare card will not be automatically renewed. Several reasons may exist.

Advantage (Part C) plans

A card may not be automatically renewed because a person with Medicare Advantage has decided to change plans or go back to original Medicare.

Or, a person who is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan may find the plan has left the Medicare program. In that case, the individual will get a notice from Medicare reminding them to choose a new plan. They will get a new card from the company providing the new plan.

This online tool may help a person find a new plan.

Original Medicare

Medicare parts A and B renew automatically. Medicare will not stop coverage unless a person stops paying the premiums.

Medicare cards can be damaged, lost or stolen. There are various ways a person can get a replacement card.

Original Medicare

If a person has original Medicare, they can choose to get a replacement card online, by calling Medicare or in person:

Through the online site, My Social Security, a person can register and then request a new Medicare card. After logging in to their account, a person can access the ‘Replacement documents’ section. In that section is an option entitled ‘Mail my replacement Medicare card’. A person can click on that link and follow the instructions.

Alternatively, a person can print an official card from inside their My Medicare account.

If a person chooses not to request a card online, they can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). The phone is answered Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm.

A person can also call or go to their local Social Security office.

Advantage plans

If a person has enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, they can contact the company providing the plan to ask for a replacement insurance card. A person can do this online, through email, or by telephone.

Part D

If a person is enrolled in a Medicare prescription plan, they can continue to get prescriptions while waiting for the new card.

A person can take any letter from Medicare that confirmed they have the drug plan, or the pharmacy can contact Medicare to ask for information.

When should the replacement card arrive?

People who request a card from Social Security can expect the card to arrive within 30 days.

People who have a name or address change can make those adjustments inside their My Social Security account.

If the card does not arrive within 30 days, a person can call Social Security. The card contains important personal information. If it is lost or stolen it is important to notify Social Security.

There is no charge for the first Medicare card or for replacement cards.

If a person has Medicare Part C or Part D plans, the private companies do not charge for the Medicare cards.

All people with Medicare have a Medicare number. It is not the same number as the one used for Social Security. Healthcare providers use the Medicare number on the card to bill services.

Generally, a person does not have to renew their Medicare card each year, as it will automatically renew. If a card is lost, stolen, or damaged people can get a new card at no cost.