Why Your New Medicare Card Will Look Different

If your parents have Medicare, they can expect a new Medicare card in the mail sometime between April 2018-April 2019. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are issuing the new cards to reduce the risk of identity theft.Why Your New Medicare Card Will Look Different

Here’s what you can expect during the changeover and what to watch out for during the transition to the new Medicare cards.

New Medicare Cards

Medicare cards have always had the cardholder’s Social Security number printed on them, but that puts people at risk for identity theft. In 2015, Congress ordered Social Security numbers removed from Medicare cards to protect seniors, who are at disproportionately high risk for identity theft — especially medical identity theft which can lead to costly fraud that damages victims’ credit. You can learn more about seniors and identity theft in this post.

Instead of their Social Security number, your parents’ new cards will have a randomly generated Medicare Number — an 11-character sequence that actually includes both numbers and letters. This number will be unique to your dad or mom and they should keep it private just as they do with other personal data. Other changes planned for new cards include an easier-to-read, less cluttered design. Gone from the front of the card will be the Medicare phone number, member’s sex and the line for their signature.

Despite the new look, nothing about your parents’ Medicare coverage or benefits will change when they get the new cards.

Who Will Get These Cards?

Altogether, nearly 60 million people will get the new Medicare cards over the course of about a year. That’s everyone with traditional Medicare and those with Medicare Advantage, too. If you or your parents are getting Medicare for the first time next year or in 2019, you’ll probably be issued the new type of card from the start.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will start mailing out new cards in April 2018. Officials expect it to take a full year to get the new cards into the hands of everyone with Medicare, so it could be April 2019 before you or your parents get the new version.

In the meantime, the old cards will still work, but it’s a good idea to keep them stored in a secure spot to prevent ID theft.

Now’s also a good time to double check that your or your parents’ mailing address is up to date with Medicare so that there aren’t any delays in getting the new cards. You can check Social Security online or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

What to Do with Your Old Medicare Card

Once you have the new card and you’ve checked it to make sure all the information on it is correct, CMS recommends destroying your old Medicare card. Cut it up and throw away the pieces or run it through a paper shredder to destroy the data on it. Don’t keep it or put it in the trash whole.

The new Medicare cards will not cost anything, and anyone who contacts your parents or you asking for money, banking or credit card information, your Social Security number, etc. is a scammer. If you or your parents get a call like this, CMS and the Washington Post say you should hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE to report the attempted fraud.

Looking for Medicare or Medicaid-certified senior care services? Call SeniorAdvisor.com at 1-800-805-3621 for information about options near you.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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