A sample of the new Medicare cards. Submitted photo
New Medicare cards coming soon
From now until April 2019, Medicare is mailing new cards to the more than 60 million Americans with Medicare. The 3.9 million Texans with Medicare will begin receiving their cards this month.
The new cards will no longer have your Social Security number on them. Instead, they’ll have a new Medicare number that’s unique to you and will be used for only your Medicare coverage.
Don’t worry. Your Medicare benefits will remain exactly the same. Nothing about your health care coverage will change.
A recent federal law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help protect against identity theft. Many people asked for the new safeguard, and Congress responded.
You don’t need to do anything or pay anyone to get your new card.
If someone claiming to be from Medicare calls and requests your Social Security number or other personal information, that’s a scam. Hang up and call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 to report the incident.
Likewise, if anyone tries to charge you a fee for the new card – or for processing a “temporary” card until your new card arrives – that’s a scam, too. It’s another scheme to get to bank or credit card information. Medicare will never call uninvited and ask you to provide personal information to receive a new card.
Medicare will send your card to the address you have on file with Social Security. So, if you need to update your mailing address, call 1-800-772-1213.
Because of the many cards to be mailed, they’re being sent out in waves – several states at a time. Texans with Medicare will receive their cards over the next month.
When you do receive your card, destroy the old one. Don’t just toss it in the trash, where a crook can get hold of it. Cut it into small pieces so that the Social Security number can’t be read.
Then start using the new card right away. Doctors and other health care providers know the new cards are beginning to arrive in mailboxes and will ask for yours when you need care, so carry it with you.
Protect it as you would any other card with personal information. Removing your Social Security number will safeguard you against most identity theft, but thieves might still use it to try to get medical services.
One final note: If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, your plan’s ID card will remain your main card for health care benefits. Keep it and use it when you require care, though it’s smart to have your new Medicare card as well.
For years, people who mistakenly gave out their Medicare numbers have fallen victim to identity theft and discovered their bank accounts emptied. The redesigned Medicare cards should help prevent that.
Look for your new card in your mailbox soon. If you have any questions or need help, visit medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227.