It’s Important To Have Quick Access To Your Medicare Card

Question: Do I need to carry my Medicare Card? I can’t find it. How do I get a new one?

Answer: Your question came at the perfect time.

During 2018 and early 2019 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) worked very hard to mail out new Medicare cards to everyone who had Medicare. During those 18 months, we spent a fair amount of time talking about when to expect the new cards, and how to use them.

I regularly meet with individuals who can’t find their Medicare Card. Maybe they think it is in their wallet and then when they go to look for it, it isn’t there. Sometimes they know that it is home in the safe or desk or drawer, but then can’t find it. Other times they have no idea where it is or when they had last seen it.

Regardless of your situation, you should have a Medicare Card, you should be able to put your hands on it quickly. For many of you, it should be in your wallet. If your insurance is Original Medicare + Medicare Supplement or some sort of Retiree Coverage, your Medicare needs to be billed for the services you receive. Almost every time we see a provider now, they ask to see some sort of picture ID and our insurance cards. In these situations, you obviously need your Medicare Card with you.

Some individuals have Employee Coverage or a Medicare Advantage Plan. These individuals don’t necessarily need to carry their Medicare Card all the time. In most situations the Employee Plan and the Medicare Advantage Plan are paying for services instead of Original Medicare. These individuals often leave their Medicare Card at home, as providers don’t seem to need it for billing purposes.

As I look forward to the fall and the Annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D, I want to remind individuals that you will need that Original Medicare Card if you are planning to or end up changing your insurance products during that time. You all know that I do look forward to Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 as the time each year when everyone can make a different decision for their insurance choice. This is certainly one of my most favorite times of the year.

If you end up changing your insurance product, part of the form you will need to complete requires that information from your Original Medicare Card. So the reason I said your question came at the perfect time, is because right now is a great time to think about looking for that Original Medicare Card and if you can’t find it, order a new one!

So let’s finally get to your question; “How do you get a new Medicare Card?”

For almost everything Medicare related I would refer you to the medicare.gov website or the 800 number.

This situation interestingly enough is the one time I wouldn’t do that.

To begin the enrollment process into Original Medicare, or to order a new Medicare Card we must go to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This contacting SSA to get your replacement Medicare Card can be done in one of three ways. The first is by going to any local SSA office. There are three in our area, Jamestown, 321 Hazeltine Ave. Jamestown, or Olean,1618 West State St. or Dunkirk, 437 Main St. These locations are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Wednesday they are all open from 9 a.m. to noon. You can also call these local offices; Jamestown (887) 319-3079, or Olean (877) 319-5773, or Dunkirk (888) 862-2139. The hours being the same for calling as they are for going there. You can also call the national number (800) 772-1213, and this National number is available for extended hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. This national number also some pre-recorded help-line information available 24 hours a day. But to speak to a representative you must call between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The last way to get a new Medicare Card at SSA is to use their website and your personal Portal, mysocialsecurity.gov. To use this method you must first establish a user ID and password. Once this login and password have been established you can use this portal to request a new Medicare Card anytime that is convenient for you. You can even print out a new card on your printer.

This web portal at SSA also allows you to research your benefits for Social Security. The portal illustrates when you are eligible for retirement benefits, what your benefits will be at different ages and also access your work history as SSA has it recorded.

When speaking with or visiting the SSA offices, please be sure to check to make sure your mailing address is correct. If you request your new Medicare Card and they mail it to an old mailing address, you won’t get the card you just requested. So be sure to check on the mailing address while talking with them.

There are people who say “Don’t carry your insurance cards with you.” I disagree completely. A big part of the reason that CMS changed the Medicare Number was to help protect your Social Security number. The New Medicare Number is a uniquely assigned combination of letters and numbers. This New Medicare Number has no identifying information in it, so you are more protected from Fraud. Carrying your Medicare Card all the time is useful because we never know when we will get sick. Of course you can get the Card and show it to your providers later, but many providers now require picture ID and your insurance cards as part of the check in process.

So now that you know how to get a new Medicare Card, I encourage you to look for your card, and if you can’t find it, order a new one. You will need it in the fall to review and change your insurance coverage. By doing this now, you will receive your new Medicare Card in plenty of time for that Fall Open Enrollment (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7). This Fall Open Enrollment Period will be here before we know it.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at janells@lutheran-jamestown.org.

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