Sixty million new Medicare cards are in the mail to U.S. beneficiaries.
The new cards, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are intended to curtail identity theft. It is anticipated that the new cards will significantly reduce, but not likely fully eliminate, senior identify theft.
The old Medicare cards listed a recipient’s Social Security Number (SSN) and their signature. What is more, the SSN on the old cards functioned also as a Health Insurance claim Number (HICN). Because of this, fraud and identity theft was common. The new card was created to curb senior identity theft and fraud. The new Medicare cards, as mandated by a Congress issued deadline, should be delivered to all recipients by April 2019.
What Seniors Need to Know About the New Medicare Cards
The most important point to note about the new cards is that they are being mailed out in waves to all recipients across the country. That means that if you live in California and do not get your card when your relative in New York did, wait for it to show up. It is on its way. The wave mailings started in the spring of 2018 and since that time 15 states have been covered. Next on the list are South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Did not get your card even after the mailing for your state is designated as being complete? Not a problem. Go to your “MyMedicare” account and check to see if your card was mailed. There are instances where cards have not been mailed to addresses that were not clear or Medicare felt were not trustworthy. Beneficiaries only need to contact Medicare and offer updated information to ensure they receive a card. Once you do receive your new card shred your old one to guard against identity theft.
The new card does not change your benefits. They stay the same. For example, if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Drug Plan, keep using that plan’s ID card. The new card is still very recognizable — red, white and blue, with black print — but the design is different.
These new credit-card sized Medicare cards have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) consisting of 11 numbers and letters. The cards use numbers 0 through to 9 and all letters except—S, L, O, I, B and Z—which will never be used on the new cards. The Social Security number is not listed the new cards.
New Medicare Cards Mean New Scams
Seniors need to stay aware of scams and con artists trying to obtain their personal information for illegal uses. Two scams in particular are of concern: callers stating they are Medicare representatives calling to verify a recipient’s SSN or stating the new card needs to be paid for. The second popular scam tries to tell beneficiaries that there is a balance on their current Medicare card and they want to refund that money into their bank account, once the target gives them bank account details.
Even with the new changes to Medicare cards, scammers have been known to be extra vigilant and creative in finding ways to con people out of their personal information. It is best, despite receiving a new card, to be extra cautious about how it is used. Be safe. Be alert. Be aware. Protect your identity.