What You Should Know About New Medicare ID Cards
At the beginning of April the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started mailing new Medicare ID cards to all beneficiaries. Some East Texans who qualify for Medicare might have already received them, while others may have a while to wait. Whether you’re a healthcare provider, an individual who qualifies for benefits or a caregiver whose loved one is a recipient, Northeast Texas Neurology Associates answers some of your most common questions.
Why are Medicare Cards Changing?
Until now, CMS used a health insurance claim number (HICN) based on each beneficiary’s Social Security number to identify them. That number was on patient Medicare ID cards.
Health care providers also stored and referenced that number as part of documentation on patient financial responsibility. Using a Social Security number left individuals open to identity theft.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 legislates CMS must remove social security numbers from all cards by April of 2019. Instead of a claim number based on your social security number, new cards will have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The benefits don’t change, only the cards.
The new number has 11 digits assigned randomly. They will include both numbers and capital letters. They don’t have any tie to a person’s birth date, social security, driver’s license or any other important digits.
When Will I Get My New Medicare Card?
CMS is mailing Medicare cards to one geographic region at a time, so the address they have on file for you affects when they arrive. People who just qualified for Medicare this April received them immediately.
Starting in May, cards go to mid-Atlantic states like Maryland and Delaware. Then they ship in mailing waves to several states at a time.
The CMS website says is in the second to last shipping region and that they’ll mail cards sometime after June 2018. The schedule is available here, and you can sign up for email updates on the Medicare website.
If you participate in a Medicare Advantage plan like an HMO or PPO, you won’t get a new card at all. Those plans already use a unique ID number, not your social security number. Prescription plans operate separately, so they won’t send new cards either.
Medicare Card Scam Alert
The whole point of the new cards is improved information security. Unfortunately, there will always be individuals looking for new ways to mislead others for financial gain.
An AARP survey recently revealed 76 percent of individuals age 65 and older say they don’t know much or they’re unaware of the replacement initiative. More than half believed they might have to pay for their new card. Here’s what you need to know:
- There is no fee for the new card. They are completely free.
- As long as your address is correct, there’s nothing else you need to do. Cards ship automatically. You don’t have to register for or request them.
- Medicare will not call you and ask for personal information or money. You will never be asked to give personal information over the phone in order to receive your card. If someone asks for that information, it’s a red flag they’re part of a scam.
- You can sign up for AARP’s Fraud Watch Network to stay in the loop about Medicare and other scams so you know what to look for.
- If you think you’ve already been an identity theft victim, the Federal Trade Commission provides information on what you can do.
Watching the Mail
If your address has changed, update it by going to www.ssa.gov/myaccount. If you don’t already have an account, it takes about 10 minutes to set one up. You can also call their office at (800)-772-1213.
Your card might not arrive at the same time as your friend or neighbors does. If you hear someone you know has already gotten theirs and you haven’t yet, don’t panic. Medicare has more than 60 million people to mail cards to, so it makes sense they won’t all arrive at once.
New Medicare cards are red, white and blue and printed on paper. Here’s an example of what yours might look like. Pay extra attention to your mail so you don’t throw it away with the junk.
Once you receive your new Medicare card, destroy the old one. Don’t just drop it in the trash can since it contains your social security number. The new card will work immediately without a need for activation. You’re not ever going to need your old card again, so shred it as soon as you receive the replacement.
New Medicare Cards and Northeast Texas Neurology Associates
If you forget to bring your new card when you come for an appointment, the Northeast Texas Neurology Associates office staff may be able to find it online. We’re always happy to help patients find answers when they have questions about billing. If you need more information about the new Medicare ID cards, just ask when you contact us for an appointment.
Meta description: One study says 76 percent of people 65 and older don’t know enough about the new Medicare ID cards. Northeast Texas Neurology Associates shares when they ship, what East Texans should watch out for and where to find more information.