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Insurance Cards: When, Where & Which One to Use


How long has it been since you last cleaned out your wallet or purse? If you are like most people, you are probably carrying around a stack of store discount cards, credit cards, and insurance cards. Determining which insurance cards to use and when to use them can be very confusing. Unfortunately, there is no one answer for everyone. Here are few scenarios to consider to help you understand which insurance card to use as well as when and where to use them.

You are…Enrolled in Original Medicare Only

If this describes you, you should have a red, white, and blue Medicare card. You will use this card for all medical services.

You are….Enrolled in a Medicare Supplement

You will use your red, white, and blue Medicare card first as primary and your Supplement plan card (the one with your insurance company’s name on it) as secondary for all medical services.

Most likely, you will also have a separate card for your Part D Prescription Drug plan. You will only use this card when you fill your prescriptions.

You are…Enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan

You will want to keep your red, white, and blue Medicare card stored away in a safe place, because you will not use it when you go for medical services. Instead you will only use your Medicare Advantage insurance card.

You are…Still Working and Covered by an Employer Plan

You may or may not need your Medicare card. Whether or not you need your Medicare and in what order your insurance will pay will be dependent on your company’s number of employees. We recommend consulting with your employer’s benefits department before enrolling into or deferring your Medicare.

You are…Retired and Receiving Retiree Health Benefits from a Previous Employer

You will most likely need both Medicare Part A and Part B. In most cases, Medicare will pay it’s portion as primary and the retiree health plan as secondary. Again, when mixing employer plans with Medicare, we always recommend contacting your employer or retiree benefits department to confirm the rules for your plan.

We can help!

While these are some of the most common examples, the list of possibilities is long and each person’s situation is unique. We strongly encourage you to talk with your HR department, your health plan advisor or call us to further discuss your individual situation to make sure you fully understand what you need to do — and which health insurance cards to use!

As an additional resource, check out the official Medicare guide “Who Pays First”. This can help folks who have Medicare and another form of insurance better understand how the two may work together.

At RetireMed, our team of experts is here to assist you with any questions you have. For clients, please contact us at 877.222.1942. If you're not a client, please call 855.999.7981.