New Medicare ID Cards will be arriving this year. Currently, Medicare cards include the beneficiary’s Social Security number. To reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft, CMS is issuing new cards that replace the Social Security number with a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier. This is good news for anyone concerned with security, but the transition may lead to confusion. Here’s what you need to know to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Make sure your information is up to date.
If you’ve moved recently, make sure CMS has your current address. You can do this online using the instructions here. Make sure you’ve done this by April 2018.
Watch your mail box.
The new cards will be sent to beneficiaries through the mail. They will start arriving in April 2018, but not everyone will receive a new card immediately. The last of the cards are expected to be delivered by April 2019.
You can keep using your current card until you receive your replacement with your new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier. At that point, you should start using the new, secure card. Your doctor’s office should be preparing for the change. However, health care providers will be able to use either the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number or the new Medicare Beneficiary Number for billing purposes during the 21-month transition period ending December 31, 2019.
Look out for scams.
To keep your personal information safe from identity thieves, you should avoid giving out your personal information, especially your Social Security number. Many experts recommend not keeping your Social Security card in your wallet or purse in case it is lost or stolen.
This has put Medicare beneficiaries in a difficult position because they often need to carry their Medicare card with them, but doing so means that they are also carrying around their Social Security number. The new cards are designed to eliminate this concern. However, the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier is still considered confidential and should only be given out on a need-to-know basis.
Medicare beneficiaries should also look out for scammers trying to take advantage of the confusion that the transition may cause. It’s important to note that Medicare beneficiaries do not need to do anything to receive the new card. Simply check that your information is correct and wait for the card to arrive in the mail.
If anyone calls demanding payment for the card or asking for personal information so the card can be sent out, this is a scammer. Do not provide payment or information – even if the caller ID number looks legitimate. Scammers can easily spoof their phone number or email address to make the source look trustworthy. Don’t fall for it.