By: Eligibility Team

After you enroll in Medicare, you’ll receive one or more cards showing that you’ve enrolled in the program. Like your Social Security card, your Original Medicare card is made of paper, not plastic. While you may have concerns about your card’s durability, laminating it may make it harder for providers to use it to ensure you receive your benefits.

The Different Types of Medicare Cards

Initially, you’ll receive a Medicare card (which is red, white, and blue) in the mail. Usually this happens around three months before your 65th birthday (if you’re automatically enrolled in the program) or your 25th month of receiving disability benefits. The card will indicate whether you have Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance) or both (collectively called “Original Medicare”), along with the date your coverage starts. It will also show the phone number for Medicare’s help line.

You’ll get a separate card if you join a Part D prescription drug plan.

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Those who choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, such as an HMO or PPO, or another Medicare health plan that has prescription drug coverage, will get a card to use for hospital and doctor visits, as well as when filling drug prescriptions.

Those who have a Medigap policy will also get a card for that.

When You Have to Use the Cards

You’ll have to show the appropriate card to your doctor, hospital, pharmacy, or other health care provider when you receive health services, or get prescription drugs. For this reason, it’s important to keep your Medicare cards in good condition.

Laminating Your Medicare Card

Technically, there’s no rule against lamination, but it could cause issues with the security features of the card or when the card is scanned after you present it to the hospital or doctor’s office.

If you have concerns about your card’s durability, consider using a plastic card holder. You’ll  protect your card from damage, but still be able to remove the card when showing it to your doctor.

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Those who decide to laminate the card anyway should go ahead and sign the card beforehand. This is because if you try to sign the card after lamination, your signature will be difficult or impossible to decipher and a medical provider might refuse to accept it.

If you do laminate the card without signing it, you can easily request a replacement online by going to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, calling the SSA, or going to your local Social Security office.

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