What can you tell me about the new Medicare cards? I've heard there are a lot of scams associated with these new cards and I want to make sure I protect myself.
The government will soon be sending out brand new Medicare cards to 59 million Medicare beneficiaries. Here is what you should know about your new card along with some tips to help you guard against potential scams.
New Medicare Cards
Starting this month (April 2018), Medicare will begin mailing new Medicare cards to everyone who receives Medicare benefits. These new Medicare cards will no longer include Social Security numbers. The reason for this change is to help protect your identity and to reduce medical and financial fraud. The new cards will have a randomly generated 11-character Medicare Number. The issuance of these cards will occur automatically. You will not need to do anything or pay a fee to obtain your new card.
Medicare will mail your cardat no costto the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online Social Security account at SSA.gov/myaccount or call 800-772-1213. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
If you have relatives or friends who live in other states who receive their cards before you, do not fret. The cards will be mailed in waves to various parts of the country over a 12-month period starting in April 2018 and ending in April 2019.
Medicare beneficiaries in Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia will be the first to receive their new cards sometime between April and June. The last wave of states will be Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
When you receive your new Medicare card, do not simply throw your old one in the trash. Instead, put it through a shredder or cut it up with a pair of scissors to ensure that the section that shows your Social Security number is destroyed. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep it because you will still need it for treatment.
Watch Out For Scams
With the issuance of these new Medicare cards, be on the lookout for Medicare scams. Here are some tips:
Do not pay for your new card. It is yours for free. If anyone calls and says you need to pay for it, it is likely a scammer.
Do not give out your personal information. If someone calls claiming to be a Medicare representative and asks for your Social Security number or bank information, that is a scam and you should hang up. Medicare will never require you to provide your personal information to get your new number and card.
Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance card or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you will still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to obtain medical services.
For more information about changes to your Medicare card, visit go.medicare.gov/newcard. If you suspect fraud, report it to the FTC (FTCcomplaintassistant.gov), AARP's fraud help line at 877-908-3360 or your local Senior Medicare Patrol program. Go to SMPresource.org for contact information.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.