Beginning spring of this year, new Medicare cards have started to roll out to the nearly 60 million seniors who are enrolled in the government-provided program. If you or your senior loved one has questions about the new card, here are a few of the most common questions answered for you.
1. How is this card different from my old card?
There is only one difference and that is the Medicare number, a unique combination of 11 letters and numbers that is specific to only you. Your new number will use numbers 0 through 9, and letters B, I, L, O, S, and Z are not used. View an example of the new card here.
2. Do I Have to Pay for My New Card?
No, you do not ever have to pay for your Medicare card. If anyone tries to make you pay for your new card, they are a scammer. There have been reports of scammers making phone calls, attempting to get people to make a payment for a new card. If you receive one of these types of phone calls, hang up the phone immediately. If you suspect a scammer, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE to report the scam attempt.
3. When Will My Card Arrive?
Cards are already being sent out on a state-by-state basis, and the government expects to be finished sending all cards by April of 2019. If you have not received your card yet, you can find out when to expect it at Medicare’s website. While you’re there, sign up for an email update the moment your card goes in the mail. You can also check the status of your new card by logging onto your MyMedicare.gov account. If your card has already been mailed, you’ll see your new Medicare number and be able to print an official copy of your card.
Some doctor’s offices are already asking for new Medicare card numbers. If you haven’t gotten your new card yet, or if you forgot to bring your new card to your doctor’s appointment, your doctor’s office should be able to look up your new number online. If you cannot find your new Medicare number and need it, call the Medicare hotline at 800-633-4227 for assistance.
4. Why Are New Cards Being Sent?
Congress mandated that the old cards were not secure enough and decided to create new, more secure versions of the cards in an attempt to cut down on identity theft. The old cards had a person’s Social Security number stamped onto the card, which made it easier for thieves. Hopefully, the new cards will result in fewer scam attempts on seniors.
5. How can I protect my new card from loss or theft?
To avoid becoming the victim of a lost or stolen Medicare card, it is recommended that you avoid carrying your new card on you unless you are headed to your doctor’s office and they need to add your new Medicare number to your file. Once they have your new number on file, they should not need to see your card again. If you do happen to lose your card, contact the Social Security Administration by going online, calling, or visiting their office during office hours.
6. What if I’m new to Medicare?
New Medicare members will receive the new card as soon as you sign up, even if other people in your state have not yet received their new cards. Cards for new members are shipped out on a sign-up basis.
7. What if I have a Medicare Advantage Plan ID card?
If you use the Medicare Advantage Plan ID card, do not throw your old card away when your new card arrives. You will need to keep both cards. You’ll still use your Advantage Plan ID card as your main Medicare card, but keep the new card in case you’re ever asked to show the new number for any reason.
8. What will change with my new card?
Your Medicare coverage will not change with the new card. Your coverage stays the same. The only thing that will change is your Medicare number. The look and feel of the card will be generally the same. The new card is made of the same cardstock as the old cards. Just as with the old cards, Medicare recommends that you only share your new number with health care providers, insurers, pharmacies, and any loved one who you trust who may need the number for some reason.
9. What if my address has changed?
When the new cards are sent out, Medicare will send your card to the address that the Social Security Administration has on file for you. If your address has recently changed or you’re not sure if the Social Security Administration has your address correct, you can call 800-772-1213 or go online to check.
10. What should I do with my old card when my new card arrives?
When your new card arrives, Medicare recommends that you destroy your old card immediately. Remember to destroy it completely rather than just throw it away. Shred the card, cut it up with scissors, or use another way to make sure your name and number are unrecognizable on the old card. By getting rid of the old card, you will be able to better protect your identity from thieves.