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New Medicare Cards are Coming – Are You Ready?
New Medicare cards are on their way to members right now. The new cards have been years in the making, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started mailing them in April 2018. If you’re enrolled in Medicare in 2019, here’s what you need to know about the new cards.
Sit Back and Relax
Your new card will arrive automatically. You don’t need to do anything or request it. In fact, many people have already received theirs. CMS is sending the cards out in phases. If you’re curious about when you will get yours, you can sign up to get an email from CMS. You can also go online to your MyMedicare.gov account and see the date your card was mailed.
If you don’t get your card right away, you’re still enrolled in Medicare 2019. Your old Medicare card will work until 2020, which gives you plenty of time to get your new card. The CMS should have every card mailed by April 2019. If you don’t get your card by then, call Medicare.
Don’t worry if your next door neighbor gets his card before you do. New cards are being mailed in waves, but they aren’t grouped by address. And speaking of where you live, note that the CMS will send your card to the address you have on file with Social Security. Make sure your address is up to date with them. If you need to update it, visit the Social Security website to make changes.
Once Your New Card Arrives
Once your new card arrives, you’ll notice the differences right away. First, it’s made of paper, so it’s easier for your doctor’s office to make a copy. Second, it’s smaller than your old card. The new card is the same size as the other credit cards in your wallet, making it easier to store.
You’ll also notice your card no longer displays your social security number. Instead, you’ll see a unique, nonsequential and randomly assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Medicare is using numbers 0 through 9 and all letters except S, L, O, I, B and Z for these new sequences. If your new card contains these letters or looks suspicious, report it to Medicare immediately.
Removing the social security number was a big reason for sending out new cards. This helps protect you against identity theft. These numbers don’t represent any personal information like where you live or your birthdate. Two important things to do:
- Destroy your old card: Since your old card has your social security number on it, you should destroy it. Cut it into pieces or shred it securely to prevent identity theft.
- < strong >Keep your other cards: People who have Medicare Advantage plans or Part D plans need to keep the cards sent by those plans. Providers may ask people with MA plans to show both their plan card and their Medicare card.
Using Your New Card
Even though the new card doesn’t have your social security number on it, it’s still important to protect it just as you would a credit card. Keep it in a secure location. Changes to the cards should make them easier to store and use, but they could also make it easier for the card to get ripped or lost, so take appropriate precautions (as you would with any card in your wallet).
If you misplace your new card, don’t worry. You can go online to get an official copy to use right away. For a physical replacement, you can do that online, too. Go to your my Social Security account and request it there.
Only give your Medicare number to people directly involved in your healthcare. Doctors, pharmacists and care coordinators need to see your card and know your number, but ask ahead of time just in case. While these new cards don’t display your social security number, they can still be used to make fraudulent claims on your behalf the same as any other health plan ID. Safeguard your card.
: Don’t give your number to anybody over the phone – ever. Scams increase during the Medicare annual enrollment period in the fall, so be suspicious if somebody calls and asks for your number. In addition, beware of anyone offering you an incentive for enrolling in Medicare. Legitimate salespeople and agents will not call you out of the blue. You have to request a callback. And legitimate agents won’t ask for your Medicare number because they don’t need to know it.
It’s also important to know that although the card is different, your Medicare coverage hasn’t changed. You can still see the same providers and get the same benefits as you have in the past.
Remember Medicare Open Enrollment
Your new Medicare card might be new, but open enrollment remains the same. We recommend reviewing your coverage carefully during the annual signup period that runs from October 15 through December 15, especially if something has changed in the last year. Browse newly available plans and shop for the coverage that fits your needs best. Taking the time to consider your needs each year will help you make the most of your Medicare benefits.