Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2021

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The lowdown...

  • How you receive a new insurance card depends on your coverage
  • If your policy is simply renewing, you shouldn’t have to do anything
  • Pharmacies, hospitals, and doctor’s offices should be able to verify coverage without an insurance card in hand
  • Replacing a Medicare or Medicaid card has different rules than commercial insurance companies

Whether you go to the doctor for a physical or the hospital for a chest x-ray, you need to have your health insurance card on you. Even when you pick up a prescription from the pharmacy, you need to be prepared to present your medical card.

But, what do you do if you lose your insurance card? Instructions vary depending on what type of coverage you have. Below, we’ll go over how to go about getting a replacement medical insurance card and different situations that may apply to you.

Learn more about out health insurance below and make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool above!

How do you get a replacement Medicare card?

If you have a red, white, or blue Medicare card that is lost or stolen, you will need to get it replaced as soon as possible. If the card becomes damaged or too faded to read easily, you’ll also need to get a new card quickly. There are a few ways to get your Medicare card replaced.

The easiest way is to call the National Social Security Hotline at 1-800-772-1213. It is also possible to apply for a new Medicare ID card online or at your local Social Security office. Under most circumstances, it can take up to 30 days to receive a replacement Medicare card by mail.

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How do you get a new Medicaid or CHIP insurance card?

Medicaid benefits are handled at the state level, which means the process to receive a replacement card varies. If you have just recently been approved for Medicaid for the first time in your state, you will get a benefits letter upon approval.

The benefit letter will say when your coverage will begin. It will likely tell you when to expect your Medicaid card to arrive. On average, it takes 7 to 10 days to receive your original Medicaid card.

How often or when you can apply for a replacement card is when the differences in states come into play. In some states, Medicaid eligibility is re-evaluated once a year.

Upon initial approval, you receive an insurance card. Some states resend a new card every time a person is approved for benefits. Other states mail a permanent card and require providers to be responsible for determining whether coverage is in effect.

Some states allow subscribers to apply for a new card if their original card is lost, stolen, or damaged. In Texas, customers can reprint cards from the state’s website as needed. If you cannot locate your state Medicaid ID card and need a prescription filled or test performed, a provider should be able to access the state system and verify coverage  even if you don’t have the card available to present.

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Why do you need a health insurance ID card?

Your health insurance ID card serves as proof of coverage when you go to the doctor for medical care or receive any other health care services. The ID card has information about your health plan that the health care provider needs in order to bill your insurance company.

A medical provider can turn you away if you don’t have your health insurance ID card, even if you have health insurance. They may be willing to accept your policy and plan numbers without seeing the actual card, but it is best to get a temporary insurance card or other proof of insurance as soon as you can to make sure you can get the medical treatment and services you need.

What should you do about a stolen health insurance card?

If your wallet gets stolen, the first thing you do is cancel your debit and credit cards, and then get new IDs. But, the list shouldn’t end there. You should also contact your health insurance if your ID card was in your wallet.

If you don’t contact your health insurance to tell them your card was stolen, someone may use your medical benefits to seek care. When you contact your health insurance to report a lost or stolen insurance card, you should expect to have a new ID issued.

The company will likely change your ID, so that no one can use your health insurance benefits in the future. Not only does this protect you from charges incurred by another person, but it also helps the health insurance company recognize any fraudulent charges.

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What should you do if your insurance card is expired?

If you need a new medical insurance card because your old card expired, you shouldn’t have to do anything. A new card should arrive in the mail within a few days of the policy starting.

If your card hasn’t come by the day your new policy starts, you don’t have to wait for the card to arrive to seek services.

As long as your new policy is the same company as your previous policy, your provider, pharmacy, or hospital can look you up via subscriber information.

If your new policy isn’t with the same company as your previous carrier, you should receive an email with information on how to use your insurance if your card doesn’t arrive by the effective date. As mentioned above, if you can tell a provider your insurance carrier and provider information about the subscriber such as full name, DOB, etc., you should have no issues using your new policy even if you don’t have the printed information in hand.

Can you print a copy of your health insurance card?

If you are constantly without an insurance card because you and other family members share the same ID, you may be able to print a copy of your plan card at home. To see if this applies to you – look up your medical insurance company online. If you don’t have an online account, you’ll have to create one.

Once you have accessed your medical insurance policy online, you should be able to find an option that allows you to print an ID card at home. There is usually no limit to the number of cards you can print, so each person on your policy can have their card. A copy of your insurance card works just as well as the original and is easy to replace.

To save yourself time and prevent being turned away for medical services; it’s important to keep your information in a secure place. When you initially receive your health ID cards, it’s a good idea to make copies of the information if the originals are lost or stolen. If your medical cards do come up missing, it’s important to have the IDs replaced as quickly as possible.

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