When You Need a Replacement Medicaid Card
- If you needed a replacement Medicaid card, would you know how to get it? Learn about the process for replacing a lost or stolen Medicaid card quickly.
Medicaid provides basic health coverage to tens of millions of Americans, often those with low incomes or serious medical needs. To facilitate treatment, the program distributes benefits cards to its participants, which may be used at the point of payment like any other insurance card. If your card has been lost or stolen, you need a replacement Medicaid card as soon as possible. The process can get a bit involved, however, and it’s important to get started as soon as you notice your old card is gone.
Medicaid Benefits Cards
Medicaid benefit cards look like any other insurance card, and they can be used in the same way. The usual procedure is to present a valid card at the desk when you check into a medical office or hospital, or if you’re at the pharmacy filling a prescription. The cashier can scan your card and apply your Medicaid benefits to the cost of your services or medications. A co-payment or share of cost you have left unpaid is then charged to you. If your benefits completely cover the service you’re getting, then you pay nothing.
Your card has a serial number on it that can be used as a billing ID for Medicaid-authorized providers. It is common, for example, for a medical transportation company to copy your number off of the card to put in their paperwork when they bill Medicaid for your ride. Your card also has some identifying information about you and your health benefits account, so it’s best to keep it secure unless you’re using it.
Alternate Medicaid Cards Through Third-Party Insurers
Many people get their Medicaid benefits directly from their state’s Medicaid program. Some states, however, funnel benefits through a third-party insurance company that operates in the state. The benefits you get this way usually function just like the benefits you’d have through legacy Medicaid, though you probably have access to that insurer’s full network of providers, whether it’s an HMO or a PPO.
These cards are just like your Medicaid card, since they function the same way at payment and have some personal information on them. As with your Medicaid card, you want to keep track of where your HMO or PPO card is at all times.
Why Would Your Card Be Stolen?
Sometimes people steal Medicaid benefit cards. They most often do this in order to use your benefits for themselves, or to sell your Medicaid benefits to other people. This is a form of identity theft, and it's very common. You must not allow anyone other than yourself to use your Medicaid card, since any of the services the card is used for inevitably get charged to your account. Apart from the waste this creates, false medical records under your name can be very serious if you ever need care yourself. You could also be charged with a crime if your card is improperly used to get benefits and the authorities think you were involved.
Lost cards are less serious at first, but once a card has gone missing, you simply don’t know whether somebody is using your name to get expensive healthcare. Even if your lost card is never found, you generally can’t get medical treatment without it, so you have every reason to request a replacement Medicaid card fast.
When Your Card Goes Missing
The first thing to do when your card is lost, for whatever reason, is to call your state Medicaid office as soon as possible. You can find a comprehensive list of state Medicaid contacts on the Medicaid.gov website. Call to speak with a representative, or visit your state’s Medicaid website, to report a lost or stolen card. Be prepared to give your identifying information, including your Social Security number, when you call.
Getting a Replacement Medicaid Card
The process of getting a replacement Medicaid card varies by state. Most states issue a replacement card with a new number through the mail. Texas makes new cards available online through the state’s Medicaid website. You can download your replacement card and print a copy if you need it right away. In states that mail a card to you, the process should take about the same amount of time it took to get your original Medicaid card.
If You Are the Victim of a Crime
Stealing or otherwise misusing a Medicaid card is a crime. It is strongly advised that you report a card you suspect might have been stolen from you as early as you can. Your local law enforcement can take a report from you if you wish, though an investigation can also be done through your state’s Medicaid program, which has its own fraud investigators. Filing a report can help the authorities catch an identity thief early, save your benefits from being used illegally and create a paper trail that shows you promptly reported the missing card before it was used.