Can You Laminate Your Medicare Card?

In this article...
  • Learn about why it’s not recommended to laminate your Medicare card and what other steps you can take to protect your card and how to replace it if you lose your Medicare card.

A lot of Medicare beneficiaries wonder if they can laminate their Medicare cards. After all, the card is only made of paper and can take a beating if it’s pulled in and out of a wallet or purse all the time. And because your Medicare card is used to file your claims for health care, you will of course want to keep it safe.

However, the Social Security Administration advises beneficiaries to not laminate their Medicare cards.

What Happens If You Laminate Your Medicare Card?

Laminating a Medicare card is not illegal. However, the lamination may prevent the detection of certain security features located within the card. It could also potentially cause a health care provider to misread a number on your card and a claim to be denied.

Also, providers may need to make a copy of your card for their records, which could be difficult to do if it’s laminated.

Are the New Medicare Cards Plastic?

The new Medicare cards, which were issued in 2018, are made of thick paper. Paper cards are easier to use and copy, and they also save taxpayers money. Having paper Medicare cards also allows beneficiaries to print off their own cards should they lose their original one.

There are some companies who sell plastic Medicare cards. While some of these companies are legitimate, some may be scams that are just attempting to collect your Medicare number and other information for fraudulent purposes. If you wish to purchase a plastic Medicare card, research any company before doing business with them.

How Can I Protect My Medicare Card?

A good alternative to laminating your Medicare card is purchasing a clear plastic ID card holder. These holders provide an equal level of protection as lamination but with the added ability to remove the card quickly and easily when needing to use or copy it.

It’s a good idea to make a copy of your Medicare card and keep the original card in a safe place at home and the copy in your wallet or purse.

If you are visiting a health care provider you have seen before, you may not need to show your Medicare card, as they may likely have it on file. If you are visiting a new provider, you should bring your Original Medicare card (your card for your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage) with you. Sometimes a copy of your card or even a photo of your card may be accepted. It’s a good idea to call ahead and ask what form of Medicare information is accepted.

If you belong to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan, you should have another insurance card for that particular policy. You should take both your Original Medicare card and your private Medicare card when receiving care.

How Can I Replace My Medicare Card?

If your Medicare card is damaged, lost or stolen and you fear it may be used by someone else, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report it lost and receive instructions for acquiring a replacement card. You can also call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to request a new Medicare card.

You may also create an account at MyMedicare.gov to request a new Medicare card online. The new card may be mailed to your home, or you may print it off yourself.  

You may also request a replacement Medicare card through the Social Security Administration at ssa.gov by logging into your account, selecting “Replacement Documents” and then “Mail my replacement Medicare card.”

Another option for obtaining a replacement Medicare card is visiting your local Social Security office.

It may take up to 30 days to receive your new Medicare card in the mail. If you need to use your Medicare coverage before then, you may print off a copy of your Medicare card through your MyMedicare.gov account. You can also request a temporary proof of membership which should arrive within 10 days.

If you need to replace a lost card for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D or Medigap, you will need to contact the insurance carrier directly. It’s a good idea to make a copy of these cards as well so you can keep a backup card on hand.

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