Got Medicare? Read on!
Until now, losing your Medicare card was as significant a problem as losing your Social Security card. That’s because your Medicare card included your Social Security number.
You know how important your Social Security number is—and how you never want it to fall into the wrong hands. It’s tied to your identity in a lot of ways, and in the wrong hands, it could lead to identity theft.
A new law—the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015—required Medicare to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. The existing Health Insurance Claim Number on cards, which is based on Social Security numbers, will be replaced with what’s called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, or MBI.
This month, the U.S. government began the process of mailing Medicare users the new card. The idea of replacing the Social Security number with the MBI is to help keep your personal information more secure and help protect your identity.
The changeover won’t happen overnight. In fact, the government will mail out the cards over the course of a year—from April 2018 through April 2019.
What will the new Medicare card look like?
The new Medicare card will still be white, with red, blue, and black print, but it will sport a different design, as shown in the samples below from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. The new card will be made of paper, not plastic. This is intended to make the card easier for providers to use and copy.
What you should know about your new Medicare card
If you’re one of the more than 57 million Americans who receive their healthcare coverage through this federal health insurance program, here’s what the Medicare folks advise:
- Since your new Medicare card will be mailed to you, you may need to update your mailing address. To do so, visit your mySocial Security Account.
- Your benefits and coverage stay the same.
- Once you receive your new Medicare card, start using it immediately.
- Destroy your old card.
- In a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO)? Your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare, so keep and use it whenever you need care. You may also be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry it with you.
- Give your new Medicare number to only those providers you trust—doctors, pharmacists, insurers, and those who work with Medicare on your behalf.
- Your new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier is still important personal information that you should protect.
When will I receive my new Medicare card?
The government will begin mailing the cards, in waves, this month (April 2018). And people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings on Medicare.gov. By law, all new Medicare cards are to be issued no later than April 16, 2019.
|New Medicare Card Mailing Schedule|
|Wave||States Included||Cards Mailing|
|1||Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia||April - June 2018|
|2||Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon||April - June 2018|
|3||Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin||After June 2018|
|4||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont||After June 2018|
|5||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina||After June 2018|
|6||Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming||After June 2018|
|7||Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands||After June 2018|
Look out for Medicare scams
It’s possible that scam artists will take advantage of the change in Medicare cards to try to trick people. Remember that Medicare will never call you uninvited, asking you to give them personal or private information in order for you to obtain your new Medicare number and card. If someone calls, asking for your information or money or threatening to cancel your Medicare benefits unless you provide personal information, hang up. You can also call Medicare at 800-633-4227.
For more information about the new Medicare cards, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.