Be on the Lookout for Your New Medicare Card

The Social Security Administration has already started sending new Medicare Cards to all recipients on a rolling basis.

The first group of new cards is being sent between April and June of this year to Medicare recipients in Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Maniana Islands.    The last wave, which will be sent between January and April of 2019,  will go to people in Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The new cards replace your Social Security Number with a  randomly-generated 11-digit alphanumeric “Medicare Number,”  which will be used for the purpose of medical billing, and verifying eligibility.  However, until the end of 2019, you can use either your new card or your old card when you go to your doctor’s office or the hospital.   Your doctor’s office should also be able to look up your new Medicare number on a secure website.

The purpose of the change is to make it harder for identity thieves to access your information.  Previously, if you lost your wallet with your Medicare card in it, accidentally left your card behind at the doctors office, or a scammer got your Medicare number on the phone,  your social security number could be used to access your bank account or divert your Social Security payments.

Unfortunately, scammers are already using this transition to try and get social security numbers one last time, for example by calling seniors to  say that they need to give the number on their current Medicare cards before they can receive the new one, or that they need to get the current Medicare number so that reimbursement payments can be direct-deposited.  Remember that Medicare will never contact you by phone or email, so if you get one of these calls, just hang up.

If you think Social Security may not have the correct address to send the new card, call them at 1-800-772-1313, or check your My Social Security account on line.  And if you  receive a call that you think may be fraud, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission, or call the AARP Fraud Help Line at 1-877-908-3360.

And finally, when you get your new card, don’t just throw the old one in the trash. Either put it through a shredder, or cut it up with scissors in a way that the Social Security number on it cannot be identified.


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