Next year, Medicare beneficiaries will start receiving new Medicare ID cards in the mail. These cards will differ from previous cards in an important way: They won’t have Social Security numbers on them. Each beneficiary will be assigned a unique Medicare number, and this will appear on the card instead of the Social Security number. The first of the cards will be sent out in April 2018, and the last of the cards should arrive by April 2019.
Why are new Medicare cards being issued?
Data breaches – like the one that occurred at Equifax and exposed the personal information of 143 Americans – bring the threat of identity theft to the forefront. Identity thieves can obtain the details needed to scam people in other ways, however, and Medicare beneficiaries are a common target.
Having Social Security numbers on Medicare cards may make the problem worse.
Many experts warn that people should not keep their Social Security cards in their wallet. If the wallet is lost or stolen, the reasoning goes, losing the Social Security card can make people vulnerable to identity theft. Because Medicare cards have Social Security numbers printed on them, they are just as risky to carry around.
The new Medicare cards will address this problem by removing the Social Security number. You can see an example of what they will look like here.
What do Medicare beneficiaries need to do?
Medicare beneficiaries do not need to take any extra steps to receive their new cards.
The cards will be sent via mail, as are many important Medicare notices. It’s essential that Medicare recipients report any change of address. Additionally, Medicare beneficiaries should check their mail for any letters from Medicare and open them immediately.
After receiving the new Medicare cards, which should happen sometime between April 2018 and April 2019, patients can use them in place of the old cards.
How can Medicare beneficiaries protect themselves?
The new cards will help reduce the risk of identity theft, but Medicare beneficiaries should still exercise caution.
- Keep the new cards secure. Although they pose less of a risk than the old cards, the new Medicare number is still private information. Don’t let it get into the wrong hands.
- Don’t give out personal information over the phone. Many scammers pose as Medicare representatives. If someone calls and demands information, don’t provide it.
- Remember that you don’t have to do anything special to receive the new Medicare cards. For example, you don’t have to pay a fee, and you don’t have to verify your personal details over the phone.
As always, PTT is your Medicare Insurance resource. Contact us if you have any questions.