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New Medicare cards coming your way

POSTED April 10, 2018 11:36 a.m.

As the need to ward off scams and identity theft ever increases, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is now required to remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card.
New cards will begin to be mailed in April of 2018, however Kansas residents are in the third wave of mailings and can expect theirs after June 2018. Additional details on timing will be available as the mailings progress.
To get ready for the changeover, make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.
Beware of anyone who contacts you about your new Medicare card. Medicare will never ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare number and card.
Here are 10 things to know about your new Medicare card:
1. Your new card will automatically come to you. You don’t need to do anything as long as your address is up to date.
2. Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security number. This will help to protect your identity.
3. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
4. Mailing takes time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.
5. Your new card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
6. Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away.
7. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare-you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card too.
8. Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know it’s coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.
9. Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
10. If you forget your new card, you, your doctor or other health care provider may be able to look up your Medicare Number online.
Providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. There will also be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN, further easing the transition.
The change to the new Medicare cards should be automatic and easy. Just be aware that the new cards are coming and watch the mail for yours to arrive. Remember that the new paper cards may look a bit different from what you’re used to.

Linda K. Beech is a family and consumer sciences agent with the Cottonwood District K-State Research and Extension. Contact her at 785-628-9430 or email lbeech@ksu.edu.

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