05 Jul The Buck Stops Here- Your New Medicare Card
A few months ago, a new congressional mandate regarding Medicare was announced: all beneficiaries of Medicare will receive a new Medicare card with a subsequent new member number. This number will be an 11-digit computer generated combination of numbers and letters; except the letters S, L, O, I, B and Z. Oh great! Yet another confusing combination of letters and numbers that will have to be committed to memory, right?
Since the inception of the program in 1965, Medicare has used the beneficiary’s social security number as the unique member identifier. Using the recipient’s social security number seemed to be an ingenious plan to keep benefits secure and associated to the correct person. On July 30, 1965 Former President Harry S Truman was issued the very first Medicare card, which was embossed with his social security number. This card was issued to the recipient with the intent to provide proof of insurance to doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers.
Unfortunately, with the rise of Identity Theft, easy access to someone’s social security number is the secret combination that can unlock the private identity vault. Keeping your social security number secure is one of the most important precautions when it comes to protecting your financial identity. From a very young age it is ingrained that our 9-digit identifier is sacred, to be memorized and then locked into safe keeping. In many cases companies will only show the last four digits of your social security number when communicating to prevent an unwanted snooper from snatching the code.
Conversely if you’re enrolled in Medicare, your social security number sits in your wallet day after day on the front of your Medicare card. That is until now! Congress listened, mandating the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to distribute new member identification that will no longer include the recipient’s social security number. These new cards are being mailed to certain states now, with the last cards being distributed by April 2019. If you are new to Medicare you will be issued a new card automatically. If you already have an old Medicare card, you will get a new card in the mail.
Equally as important as replacing your old card is to avoid the Medicare Fraud Scams. Sadly, many scam artists that are attempting to get your personal information during this transition. There have been reports of phone calls demanding money, or attempting to activate your new card. You will not need to activate your card, and you will not receive any phone calls regarding your card. If you do get phone calls hang up! Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or log on to your Social Security Account to check the status of your card.
Here are a few tips from the Social Security Administration:
· Destroy your old Medicare card right away. Make sure you destroy your old card to help protect your SSN and other personal information.
· Start using your new Medicare card. Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards, so carry the new card with you. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
· Keep your Medicare Advantage Plan card. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), keep using your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card whenever you need care. However, you should also carry your new Medicare card—you may be asked to show it.
· Protect your Medicare Number like you would your credit cards. Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurer, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.