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What Is An Insurance Card?

If you are one of the several million Americans who have enrolled in a new health plan through the health insurance marketplace, you will receive, along with other insurance documents, a health insurance card.

Health insurance cards are issued by your private insurance company, or, if you are a new Medicaid enrollee, by your state's Department of Health. Even if you enrolled though an Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchange, the federal government is not your insurance company. You will not be issued an "Obamacare" card. There is no such thing.

Different insurance companies have different formats for their insurance cards (also called enrollment cards), but all cards will contain the same basic information:

  • The insurance company name
  • Your name, or the name of the head of your family if coverage is part of a family plan
  • Your group number
  • Your account number
  • The name and type of plan
  • A toll-free number you can call for questions about your coverage

Additionally, your card may list the dollar amount of the co-payment you must pay for a doctor's visit or a prescription.

On your first visit to a new doctor or health care facility, the office clerical staff will need the information from your card to determine where to send the bill. You may be required to provide your insurance information at the time you make the appointment, so have your card ready when you call. Most offices will make a photocopy of the card and keep your insurance information on file, so you won't need to show the card on subsequent visits. You will also need to produce your insurance card at the pharmacy when you go to have a prescription filled.

You should carry your card in your wallet in the event you have an emergency away from home and must be directly transported to a hospital or clinic. While you will not be denied care if you fail to produce an insurance card, having it available will simplify your paperwork.

If you have enrolled in a new health plan and have not received an insurance card, contact your insurance company. Most insurers give you the option of setting up an online account. Visit your insurance company's website, click on a link or tab for members, and select "register." From this account, you may be able to print your insurance ID cards, as well as access your health plan's provider list. Your records of claims paid to health care providers will also be available.

Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on

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