Losing a Medicare card can be extremely stressful. You might not know whether someone stole the card or whether you or your loved one simply misplaced it.
Even if you think your Medicare card might still be somewhere in your home, it’s a good idea to begin the replacement process. If you think your card may have been stolen, you should also take steps to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Determine Your Medicare Card Type
- Step 2: Check for Suspicious Activity
- Step 3: Put a Freeze on Your Identity
- Step 4: Notify Authorities
- Step 5: Log Onto Your SSA Account
- Step 6: Print Out a Temporary Card
- Step 7: Call the Social Security Administration
- Step 8: Visit a Social Security Office
- Step 9: Get Rid of Old Medicare Cards
- Step 10: Keep Your Medicare Card Safe
If you lost your Medicare card, or you’re helping a loved one who did, the steps below will help you through the card replacement process.
Step 1: Determine Your Medicare Card Type
Fraud and identity theft related to Medicare are common problems for seniors in the United States, despite the Social Security Administration’s best efforts. Part of the problem stems from an old form of Medicare card, which you or your loved one might have.
Old Medicare cards used the beneficiary’s Social Security number as the account number. That means someone could easily use a stolen card in the old style to steal your—or your loved one’s—identity.
Luckily, the Social Security Administration no longer issues cards in the outdated style. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began issuing new cards in April of 2018.
You or your loved one should have the new type of card by now. However, it’s possible you still had the old style of card, instead of or in addition to the new one. If you did, it’s important to be aware so that you can take the proper precautions.
Step 2: Check for Suspicious Activity
If you’re not sure what happened to your Medicare card or a loved one’s Medicare card, you can take some precautions to protect your identity.
The first thing you can do is monitor your accounts and check for suspicious activity.
Suspicious activity includes actions related to your credit, as well as actions related to your Medicare account. As mentioned above, checking for suspicious credit activity is especially important if you or your loved one had an old Medicare card.
Identity theft. If someone has been using your social security number to apply for credit cards or loans, you can find out by monitoring your credit activity.
You can do so with the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), or with an online credit monitoring service.
Medicare fraud. Even if your lost card is in the new style, a criminal could use it to acquire Medicare services.
You can check to make sure your Medicare hasn’t been used for services you never received. The main way you can do so is by examining your Quarterly Medicare Summary Notice. You can also sign up for monthly email notices.
Step 3: Put a Freeze on Your Identity
If you think your Medicare card was stolen, or if you lost the card somewhere and it could easily be found and misused, you can go an extra step to protect your identity.
You can have the three national credit bureaus place a security freeze on your credit files. Below are the resources you need to place a security freeze on your identity. You can also place a freeze on your dependent’s identity, a deceased relative’s identity, or your parent’s identity.
Step 4: Notify Authorities
If you believe your Medicare card was stolen or misused, you should report the theft to the appropriate authorities.
- IdentityTheft.gov has valuable information about who you should contact if you believe someone is misusing your personal information.
- Senior Medicare Patrol is a resource you can contact if you notice any irregularities in your Medicare reports. Your state’s SMP will help you figure out who else you should contact about any potential Medicare Fraud.
Step 5: Log Onto Your SSA Account
If you already have an online My Social Security account, you can log in to request a new card.
If you don’t already have an account, you can create one and quickly access the Medicare resources there. You can create a My Social Security account even if you don’t currently receive Social Security benefits.
- Once you’re logged into your My Social Security Account, look for the “Replacement Documents” tab.
- Then select “Mail my replacement Medicare Card.”
If you’re helping a loved one get a Medicare replacement card, you can’t legally access his or her online account. Likewise, you can’t create an account on behalf of another person.
However, you can access the SSA website and ask your loved one to create a My Social Security account. Help them navigate to the “Replacement Documents” tab to request a new Medicare Card.
Step 6: Print Out a Temporary Card
If you request a new Medicare card online, you may be able to print out a temporary replacement card. This will allow you or your loved one to easily access healthcare services in the meantime before the new card arrives.
After you request a new card online, a new permanent Medicare card should arrive in the mail within about 30 days. Make sure to enter the correct address where you want to receive the card.
Step 7: Call the Social Security Administration
If you have difficulty creating an account at SSA.gov, or you’d rather not go through the online system, you can call the Social Security Administration to request a new Medicare card.
- To contact the SSA via phone, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users, dial 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Like with the online system, your loved one will need to speak on the phone themselves if they need a new Medicare card. You can’t request a new card on behalf of another person, even if you have written consent.
However, you can help your loved one prepare for the call and make sure they’re able to provide the correct information.
Step 8: Visit a Social Security Office
If you or your loved one has difficulty with the online system and over the phone, or you’d just rather speak to someone in person, you can go to your local SSA office.
To find an SSA office in your local area, enter your zip code on the secure Social Security Administration website: SSA.gov.
Visiting a local Social Security office might help if you’re helping an elderly loved one request a new Medicare card. While you can’t speak for your loved one online or over the phone, you can accompany him or her to the SSA office.
Step 9: Get Rid of Old Medicare Cards
If you happen to find your Medicare card after you’ve received the replacement, it’s important to destroy the old one.
Again, this step is especially crucial if you have one of the old cards that shows your Social Security Number. But even if you have a new-style Medicare card and you received a replacement card, it’s important to destroy the older card.
Cut up your Medicare card using scissors, or use an office paper shredder to completely destroy the card. Make sure the numbers on the card are unreadable before you throw away any of the pieces.
Step 10: Keep Your Medicare Card Safe
Once you have your new Medicare card, you can take steps to avoid losing your card (or having it stolen) again.
Here are some tips:
Don’t carry your Medicare card with you. The best way to avoid losing your Medicare card is to avoid taking it with you unless you absolutely need to.
The only time you might need your Medicare card on your person is when you’re visiting a new doctor’s office for the first time. If you require emergency care, you can present your Medicare card a short time after being discharged.
Additionally, providers can often locate your Medicare ID number online, even when you don’t have your card with you. If you get drug or health benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan, you should bring that card with you to the doctor, rather than your Medicare card.
Store your card somewhere safe. Keep your Medicare card in a safe location at home. Make sure it’s somewhere you’ll remember, as well as somewhere that’s protected from moisture. You can store it in protected storage containers with other important documents.
It’s also a good idea to include information about your Medicare card in your end-of-life plan. Never write down your Medicare ID number on paper, on your computer, or online. Instead, include a note about where you’ve stored your Medicare ID and how to access it.
Helping a Loved One Get a New Medicare Card
Getting a replacement Medicare card is relatively easy. The difficult part is making sure your identity is safe and protected.
If you’re helping a loved one get a replacement Medicare card, the process can be slightly more complicated. As mentioned above, you can’t log into a loved one’s online account or speak on the phone on their behalf in most cases. If you need help getting a new Medicare card for a loved one, contact the Social Security Administration with questions.
- “How do I get a new Medicare card if my card is lost, stolen, or damaged? How do I change my contact information?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/how-do-i-replace-my-medicare-card/index.html
- “What Should I Do If I Lose My Medicare Card?” Experian. www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-should-i-do-if-i-lose-my-medicare-card/