16 Things to Know About Your New Medicare Card
Since April, the government has been rolling out new Medicare cards to almost 60 million seniors enrolled in the program. The year-long effort seems to be going well, helped in part by a government marketing effort to get the word out about the cards.
Do you still have some questions about your new Medicare card? We have 16 answers to the top Medicare questions you, a parent or a senior loved one might have about the new cards.
New Medicare Cards
It was on a visit to his dermatologist in Hyannis, Massachusetts in July 2018, that Richard Siewert learned he would be receiving a new Medicare card soon. A month later, he would have the new card in his hands.
“Looks just like my old one, I think, but less battered,” says Siewert, 91.
What’s different about the card isn’t the color (it’s still the trademark red, white and blue) or the card stock, but the fact that Siewert’s Social Security number isn’t plastered on the front of it anymore begging for a scam artist to steal his identity. In its place is Siewert’s “Medicare number,” a combination of 11 numbers and letters that are unique to Siewert.
Since April, the government has been rolling out new cards to almost 60 million seniors enrolled in the Medicare program.
“Medicare is not an easy subject in general,” says Anne, a Medicare advocate based in Massachusetts, who said she has not received many queries about the cards.
The Top 16 Things to Know About Your New Medicare Card
Do you still have some questions about your new Medicare card?
We have 16 answers to the top questions you, a parent or a senior loved one might have about the new cards:
1. How can I protect my new card?
Experts recommend seniors avoid carrying their new Medicare cards unless you know a doctor’s office needs to see it. Once your doctor’s office has your new number on file, you shouldn’t have to show it on visits.
2. How is this card different from my old one?
The only difference is the “Medicare number,” which is unique to you and is a combination of 11 letters and numbers. According to the Medicare.gov website, your new number uses numbers 0 through 9. Another interesting tidbit: the letters B, I, L, O, S and Z are never used.
Here’s an example of the new card: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-images/Medicare%20Card.jpg.
3. I got a phone call about my Medicaid card, is this normal?
This is not normal. Scam artists are taking advantage of the new card program and calling seniors pretending to be Medicare officials on official business.
Here’s the deal: Medicare will never call you and ask you to give personal or private information over the phone. Never give your new Medicare or Social Security number to anyone calling “from Medicare” with that request. Instead, hang up immediately and call Medicare at “1-800-MEDICARE” to report the scam attempt.
4. I heard I have to pay for the new card. Is this true?
Absolutely not. Scammers have been known to call seniors claiming they have to pay for the new cards, but this is not true.
5. What if I don’t have my new card yet but I’m asked for it?
Doctor’s offices are asking patients for their new cards, but don’t worry, there’s a transition period of many months during which both cards will work.
If you do have your card, but forgot it, your doctor’s office should be able to look up your new number online.
6. What if I have a Medicare Advantage Plan ID card?
If you are one of the nearly 18 million seniors with disabilities who use the Medicare Advantage Plan ID card, don’t throw your old card away when your new one arrives. You will still use your Advantage Plan ID card as your main Medicare card, but do keep your new Medicare card on hand in case you’re asked to show it.
7. What if I lose my new card?
If you lose or misplace your Medicare card, you can contact the Social Security Administration either online or by telephone and ask for a new one. Visit the Medicare Card Replacement section on Social Security’s website or call the Social Security hotline at: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users, call 1-800-325-0778).
You will receive a new card in the mail in about 30 days. If you need proof sooner, just let Social Security know. They can give you proof that you can use until you get a replacement card.
8. What if I’m new to Medicare?
New Medicare members will receive the new card as soon as they sign up, even if others in their state have yet to receive the new cards.
9. What if my address has changed?
Medicare will use the address that the Social Security Administration has on file. If you changed addresses recently or think Social Security may have an incorrect address, you can check your online Social Security account or call 1-800-772-1213.
10. What do I do with my old card when my new one arrives?
Medicare recommends you destroy the old card when your new one arrives. But don’t just throw it away, put it through a shredder or cut it up with scissors so your Social Security number isn’t intact.
11. When are the cards being sent?
Cards are being sent out in waves to people state-by-state. The roll-out has already started and is expected to be completed in April 2019.
As of this writing, those who live in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin have already received their cards. Those who live in American territories including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands should have received them as well.
Cards are currently rolling out in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.
Cards will be mailed out next to Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can find out when to expect your card via the Medicare website.
12. Why are new cards being sent?
Congress mandated that old cards be replaced with new ones to make the cards more secure and to cut down on identity theft. The problem was with the Social Security number stamped on the cards. The hope is that the new Medicare numbers will mean fewer scam attempts on seniors.
13. Why aren’t the new cards laminated?
I’ve read a lot of requests online from seniors asking if the new card will be plastic, and therefore hardier, than the original paper Medicare card. It’s not. The new cards are also paper made of the same card stock. This supposedly makes it easy for the staff at doctors’ offices to make copies, though I’ve read of seniors who claimed to have their cards laminated with no complaints.
14. Why hasn’t my new card arrived?
You can check the status of your new card by logging onto your MyMedicare.gov account. If your card has been mailed, you’ll see your new Medicare number and you can print an official copy of your card.
If this doesn’t work, call the Medicare hotline at 800-633-4227, to troubleshoot.
15. Will my Medicare coverage change with the new card?
No, your Medicare coverage stays the same. The only thing changing is the card.
16. With whom can I share my card or new number?
Medicare recommends you only give your new number to health care providers, insurers, pharmacies and anyone “you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.”
What other questions do you have about your new Medicare card? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.
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