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What is a health insurance card?

woman asking what is heal insurance cardA health insurance card is a valuable wallet size card that contains the information you will need to utilize your health insurance plan effectively. Exactly what is contained on the card will vary by insurance company and plan. However, in any case, this is a piece of information you will want to keep as safe as any credit card or photo identification.

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What information may be contained on a health insurance card?

Some information will be standard on all cards but most will vary depending upon your health insurance provider. Information typically contained on health insurance cards will include:

  • Your name
  • Insurance company name and contact information
  • Your policy number

Depending on your company and policy, your card may also contain any or all of the following:

  • Group number if your health plan is provided through your employer
  • Co-pay information
  • Primary Care physician’s name
  • Name of plan enrollee (if different from yourself)
  • Number to contact for prior authorization of services or if admitted to a hospital
  • Dental plan information
  • Vision plan information
  • Prescription drug plan information – Look for the Rx symbol

What is your health insurance card used for?

When you visit a doctor for the first time or are admitted to a hospital, you will be asked to provide proof of insurance so that the medical facility is assured of payment for services rendered. This card is your proof of insurance.

Most medical care facilities will make a copy of your insurance card so that they have easy access to your insurance company’s contact information and your personal insurance identification number. This will make the billing process easier.

How do I obtain a health insurance card?

When you enroll with a health insurance company, you will automatically receive a health insurance card to use. If you do not receive your card in a reasonable amount of time, you will want to contact your provider. If you are struggling to afford health insurance, you can visit www.healthcare.gov for a list of affordable health insurance options.

What are some other types of health insurance cards?

European Health Insurance Card

Health insurance cards in Europe serve a different purpose than those in the United States. Since most European countries have state sponsored health insurance, your card serves the purpose of allowing you to obtain free medical services when you are visiting another country in Europe. It contains information that another country’s medical staff would need in order to treat you.

Medicare Health Insurance Card

Medicare cards differ slightly from typical insurance cards in the United States. In addition to your basic identifying information, it will list your personal Medicare claim number and what parts of Medicare you are eligible for:

  • Part A – Hospital Coverage
  • Part B – Medical Coverage
  • Part C – Medicare Advanced Plans
  • Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage

Why is it important to keep your health insurance card safe?

It is important to protect your health insurance card as you would your credit cards or photo identification. It was reported in the February 11, 2010 edition of the New York Times that a recent study has shown that 7% of identity theft victims had their health insurance cards stolen. Thieves then use your health coverage to seek medical care for themselves.

Most people are unaware that their card is missing until they get a bill for medical services that may have not been covered and are unknown to the victim. Aside from keeping your card safe, you should make a copy of the front and back of the card in order to have quick access to information contained on the card should it be stolen or lost.

What can you expect in the future from health insurance cards?

Health insurance companies are currently working on ways to make the medical system more efficient. This includes saving you time on all of that paperwork you are required to complete when you visit a doctor for the first time.

A new health insurance card was unveiled in June of 2011 that contains a microchip with your personal information, medical history, and payment information. All a doctor’s office has to do is scan the card into their computer and they have all of your information readily available without the need for you to complete a single form.

The first company to take advantage of this technology was the Colorado based insurance company, LifeNexus. It is expected that other companies will soon follow suit.

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