New way to replace a Medicare card

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If you are older than 65 and rely on Medicare for your health insurance, you know that every time you go to a new health care provider, you are asked for your Medicare card.

If you have never seen one, the card is old school. It’s made out of heavy paper — not plastic or even cardboard.

My husband’s card is only a couple of years old and it is already folded and dog-eared. It is only a matter of time before he leaves it in his pocket and I put it through the wash. That will turn it into an unrecognizable, little ball of faded red, white and blue.

How to order a new card

So I thought it was good news when Social Security, which is the managing agency for Medicare, announced this morning that it was making it easier to get a replacement card. Beginning today, as long as you have an account on the portal, available at, you can order one. When you get to your account, select the “Replacement documents” tab. Then select “Mail my replacement Medicare card,” and expect it to arrive by U.S. mail within 30 days.

You don’t have to show up in person with proof of identification, and you don’t have to send in a replacement request form by mail. Those days are gone. The information you provided when you set up the account is enough to prove to Social Security that you are who you say you are.

In April, the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, to take Social Security numbers off of Medicare cards and replace the numbers with something else. But for the time being, Social Security says the replacement Medicare card you receive will continue to have your Social Security number on it. CMS said this morning that the date of the switchover hasn’t yet been determined.

Here’s another Social Security innovation.