Even though your Medicare card is made of thick, heavy-duty paper, it still contains some safety features that may be compromised if you laminate it.
A common question people have about their Medicare card is whether it can be laminated. It makes sense to try and provide an extra level of protection, especially since it is a simple paper card used to file healthcare claims. The Social Security Administration, however, actually advises you to not laminate your Medicare card.
What happens if you laminate your Medicare card?
While laminating your Medicare card is not illegal, and you can do so if you truly want to, there are a few reasons the Social Security Administration advises against it. For one, lamination can actually prevent some of the security features within the card from being detected. Many healthcare providers need to make a copy of your card for their own records, which is often difficult with the laminate. It may also simply cause a provider to misread information on the Medicare card, which can cause a claim to be denied.
Why aren't Medicare cards plastic?
Simply put, the main reason Medicare cards are made from paper instead of plastic is because it is easier. The newest cards (issued in 2018) are made of thick paper and are cheaper for taxpayers and easier for providers to make copies of. Using paper Medicare cards also allows beneficiaries to print off their own cards.
Some companies do sell plastic Medicare cards, but not all of them are legitimate Medicare companies. In addition, some companies do this as an attempt to collect Medicare numbers and other information. If you do want to buy a plastic Medicare card, it is important to research the company before you provide any information.
How do I protect my Medicare card?
Again, while you can laminate your Medicare card, it is recommended that you do not. Instead, consider purchasing a plastic ID holder, which offers the same level of protection while allowing you to remove the card whenever necessary.
It is also a good idea to make a copy of your Medicare card and take that with you when seeing providers, leaving the original in a safe place at home. But be sure that your provider will accept a copy instead of the original before you do this. It is always a good idea to call before your appointment to see what Medicare information your provider needs.
If you have been to the healthcare provider before, they may not even need to see your Medicare card, since they likely have it on file. But if you are seeing a new provider, it is usually best to bring in your original card. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Part D plan, or a Medigap plan, you should bring both your private and original Medicare card with you. It can be a good idea to make copies of these cards, as well.
How do I replace my Medicare card?
It is imperative you replace a damaged, lost, or stolen Medicare card as soon as possible to avoid any disruptions in your healthcare coverage or potential fraud. The easiest way to do so is with a MyMedicare.gov account online. Your new card can be mailed to you or printed out right at home. You can also call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report it lost and get a new card or Social Security at 800-772-1213. Another option is to request a replacement through your ssa.gov account.
It can take up to 30 days to receive your new Medicare card in the mail, so if you need it sooner than that your best option is to print it out from the MyMedicare.gov site. If you need to replace a card for Medicare Advantage, Part D, or Medigap, you have to contact the insurance carrier directly.
And if you’re looking for a new Medicare plan, you can call us directly at 888-992-0738 to speak to a licensed ClearMatch Medicare agent. We’ll answer your questions and help you understand your Medicare coverage options.
Or, if you’d rather do a bit more research on your own, give our Find a Plan tool a try. Enter your zip code and hit Find My Plan to start reviewing Medicare plans in your area.
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