New Medicare cards are coming

July 2, 2018     About this blog:  click here

New Medicare cards are coming

There’s a change happening to Medicare, which is pretty small from one point of view.  From another view, it’s pretty important.

Medicare has changed what your card looks like, and is changing what is on it.

New Look:

The simple part is that Medicare has changed the design of the card, which signifies that the new card is different than the old one.

The old design, which has been around for decades, looks like this:

The new design looks like this:

New Number:

The really important part to understand is that along with the new card, Medicare is giving everyone a new Medicare enrollment number.

This is your unique number which is used to keep track of Medicare services that you get, and the payments for those services.

The old Medicare numbers were generated by simply taking your Social Security Number, and adding a letter to the end of it.  That helped keep your identity as a Medicare patient straight.

The new numbers get rid of using your Social Security Number.

Instead, there is a random mixture of numbers and letters, generated by computer that is assigned exclusively to you.

Why change the number?

This might be obvious to you:  We have a huge national problem of “identity theft,” where people’s Social Security Numbers get stolen.  That often leads to theft from your bank account, credit card, and other nightmares.

Any way in which a thief might get hold of your Social Security Number is a vulnerable, weak point.

So, the fact that your Social Security Number is right on your Medicare Card can be an easy way for it to get stolen.

See someone’s card, just drop the letter off the end, and Bingo!  There’s the nine-digit Social Security Number, ready to steal.

That’s why Medicare is doing away with using the Social Security Number on its card:  To help reduce the theft of Social Security Numbers.

When do I get my new card and number?

Medicare is sending these out a little at a time.  It started in April of this year, and maybe you already received yours.  Minnesotans will start getting them in June.

Everyone else will get their new card sometime between now and April, 2019.

You can go on-line to Medicare and ask them to send you an email when your new card has shipped.   Go to:

How do I know if it will get mailed to my correct address?

GREAT question! Medicare will mail it to the same address that Social Security uses to mail things to you.

If you moved since you last got anything in the mail from Social Security (like your annual Benefit Statement), then contact Social Security and give your new address!   You can do that on-line.

Print it yourself

If you want, you can go on-line to get a copy of your card (once it has been issued to you) as a document (pdf) file.

You can then print off a fresh copy of the card if you need to.  Go to:

When do I use my new card?

You can start using it as soon as you get it.   You can destroy your old Medicare card, to help make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

How do I use my new card?

Show it when you go to medical appointments and visits.

The government is having a long transition period, all the way to December, 2019, in which medical providers can use either your old or your new Medicare number to record your services and get paid for it.

The transition stops in January, 2020.  The old numbers will not be used at all after that.  This grace period will – hopefully – ensure that nobody’s Medicare records, and provider payments, get lost in the shuffle.

I have a Medicare Advantage policy, with its own card.  What should I do?

Keep using your Medicare Advantage insurance card.  Your medical providers might not need to see your new Medicare card.  But, have it ready in case they do ask to see it.

Beware the scammers!!

Ironically, the purpose of the new cards, to reduce Social Security Number theft, gives thieves one last, big opportunity to try to get your number.   We can fully expect the following scam:

Someone calls you, says they’re from the government, and “we’re getting ready to send you your new Medicare card.”

“But,” they say, “first we need to confirm that you are the right person.  So, please read off to me the number on your current Medicare card.”

If you do that, you just handed your Social Security Number to a thief!

Know this:  NO ONE from the government will give you a call like this You will simply get the new card mailed to you.

As mentioned above, if you have email and computer access, you can find out when to expect your card in the mail.

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