If you currently receive Medicare, watch your mailbox closely and open any mail that you receive from them. The system has begun processing new Medicare cards, and started mailing them in April of this year. The process will continue throughout 2018, and into 2019, until all Medicare beneficiaries have received their new cards.
Why is Medicare issuing new cards? The old cards displayed beneficiary Social Security numbers, which in hindsight was never a good idea. If you lost your card, or it was stolen, a thief could use your Social Security number to apply for credit cards and loans in your name. (If you suspect that this has happened to you, contact the three major credit bureaus and ask for a copy of your credit report. Dispute any unknown credit accounts right away.)
The new Medicare cards will display a unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier – a number that is generated to identify you, and does not contain your Social Security number.
What do I need to do in the meantime? You don’t need to apply for a new card, or contact Medicare. The cards are generated and mailed automatically. Once your new card arrives, simply start bringing it with you to doctor appointments. Your doctor’s office will handle the changeover in their system.
Guard against fraud. Since the cards are generated automatically, Medicare will not call you. Anyone who calls you, claiming to represent Medicare and wanting to help “process your new card”, is a con artist. They will ask for your Social Security number and other identifying information, and attempt to defraud you. Hang up the phone immediately.
In the meantime, continue to guard your old Medicare card, since it does display your Social Security number. When your new card arrives, you can cut up your old card, so that you know it has been safely destroyed.
Your benefits will not be interrupted. Your doctor’s office and pharmacist have been instructed on how to change your account from the old Medicare number to the new one. You should not experience any delays in medical care or in obtaining your prescription medications.
If you have any other questions about this change, please call us and we will be happy to assist you.