As of 2015, you're eligible for a Medicare card automatically under certain conditions if you're receiving retirement benefits and are three months from turning 65 or are receiving disability benefits. If you're close to 65 but not receiving retirement benefits, you need to apply for Medicare, notes eHealth Medicare.
If you are near age 65 but are not receiving retirement benefits, you can apply for Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP, which lasts 10 months, beginning three months before your 65th birthday. Your Medicare card is mailed within a month of your approval, and coverage begins depending on the date you applied during your IEP window. You can apply online, by phone or in person at a local Social Security office, eHealth Medicare explains.
Once you receive your Medicare card, make sure you keep the card safe and your number confidential, eHealth Medicare cautions. Only give out the ID number or the card itself to your health care provider and doctor, and don't carry it with you unless it's necessary. If your card is updated or replaced, notify your doctor. Some providers may request that you carry the card with you on every visit but, if they don't, you can leave it stored in a safe place.