The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun sending new cards with new Medicare numbers to enrollees. Instead of including Social Security Numbers, the new cards will include new unique identifying numbers.
The purpose of the change is to protect participants against identity theft and protect Medicare from fraud.
The agency cautioned that it takes some time to mail out so many cards, but the Medicare website offers free email alerts, including estimates of when cards start mailing in your states.
CMS had previously announced the plan to change the Medicare cards and said that it intends to have Social Security numbers removed from all cards by April 2019 per a deadline set by Congress.
CMS offered these tips for steps to take after receiving the new cards:
- Destroy your old Medicare card right away. Make sure you destroy your old card to help protect your SSN and other personal information.
- Start using your new Medicare card. Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards, so carry the new card with you. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
- Keep your Medicare Advantage Plan card. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), keep using your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card whenever you need care. However, you should also carry your new Medicare card—you may be asked to show it.
- Protect your Medicare Number like you would your credit cards. Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurer, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.