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Health Insurance Card - What Is It And How To Get Yours

Thomas Wright Published: January 03, 2019 Updated: January 03, 2019

Health insurance card

If you’ve ever enrolled in a health insurance plan, then you’re probably already familiar with the thin, sleek card. For the most part, most people tend to forget to carry or lose their health insurance cards because they don’t quite understand the importance of them. These cards aren’t just for show, they do carry pretty significant weight and benefits, and we’ll explain just what we mean.

What Is Your Health Insurance Card?

So, what exactly is your health insurance card? The answer is pretty simple, it’s a card that is sent to you by your health insurance carrier. Typically made of plastic or card stock, your health insurance card will be specific to you and your policy, and oftentimes will include the following:

  • Your carriers logo
  • Your name
  • Member/Policy number

Health insurance cards may contain other items of importance as well, depending on the company you go with. Don’t worry if yours looks different than others because most companies have their own designs for health insurance cards, including different color schemes. It’s always a good idea to carry it with you, as it provides proof of insurance, and helps you speed up the paperwork process.

How To Read It

Many people wonder how to read their health insurance card, and it’s actually fairly simple. As we mentioned previously, your card will have a few things printed on it. In order to decipher the meaning of each item, you must know what these are.

First, you will have the insurance company’s name, which is often shorthanded to just their logo. Then, you will see your plan type which tells you what type of coverage you have followed by your date of birth and your name.

Your I.D. number is not your state I.D. number, but rather the number that the insurance company has given to you specifically. This is also called your member, or policy number. You may also see a group number if your insurance is given by your employer. Finally, you will see the amount of money your plan requires you to pay, and the phone number(s) of your provider or important people to contact.

How Long It Takes To Get Your Card

When you sign up for health insurance, your provider will take all the details and create the card for you. This card will then be mailed to you and should arrive anywhere from 7 to 10 business days after your application is approved. Make sure to ask if there’s any way to speed up the delivery, or if there’s some sort of security or tracking number to know when your card will actually arrive so that you don’t run the risk of losing it.

What Is Your Card Used For?

Your card is used to communicate with your healthcare providers, and with anyone else that may need to see it in order to provide medical care to you or your family. It is typically the first thing that a doctor or hospital will ask to see when you’re in need of medical treatment.

They will scan it for the record and if needed, the hospital will contact the insurance company to see how much you’re covered for and if there will be any out of pocket expenses for the procedure(s). If you don’t have it with you it would be smart to write your policy number on a paper you can carry with you while you receive your card.

What Happens If You Don’t Get One?

If you don’t get a health insurance card then this can only mean one thing: you don’t have health insurance. On the other hand, if you don’t have your health insurance card YET, but need to have a medical procedure done, you will not be turned down. All the hospital has to do is call the insurance company and with your name, date of birth, and social security number they will be able to pull all the information they need to treat you or your family.

How To Get A New One

If your card gets stolen or lost you will have to call the insurance company to replace it. Depending on their replacement terms, it may take up to three weeks for it to arrive and it will have a brand new number.

If you need a new one because yours was damaged or some of the information is not clearly visible, then you can also contact them to give you a new one. Once you get the new one it is a smart idea to completely destroy the old one to avoid any confusion.

The Benefits Of Carrying Your Health Insurance Card

The benefits of carrying your health insurance coverage card with you are that whoever you show it to will know that you have health insurance coverage, and will be able to see your policy number and other pertinent information right away. Another benefit is the time it saves to extract the needed information right from the card as opposed to opening up a digital file or a photo on your phone. Since these cards can also be easily reproduced, it is best to carry the real thing, either in your wallet, inside your bag, or inside of your car.