To combat identity theft, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be changing the format of all Medicare numbers, which means that every existing Medicare beneficiary will get an updated Medicare Card that lists their new Medicare number.
Instead of being based on a beneficiary’s Social Security number, each Medicare number will be an individually generated combination of letters and numbers. In addition, the new card is paper, which is easier for doctors and health care providers to use and copy.
Removing the Social Security number from Medicare cards will help fight identity theft for people with Medicare. In doing so, CMS aims to better protect private health care and financial information and federal health care benefit and service payments.
All Medicare cards will be replaced between April 2018 and April 2019. Washingtonians will receive their new cards after June of this year.
This will be a long process because CMS will be issuing approximately 60 million new ID cards. Until the new card is received, people with Medicare should continue using their current ID card. Once the new card is received, begin using it immediately. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, only the new card will be usable.
New cards will be generated for all active existing and new Medicare beneficiaries. Each beneficiary will have a unique number (e.g., husband and wife will have their own).
The new cards won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare ID cards as soon as they get them. Until they receive the new Medicare ID card beneficiaries are to continue using their current Medicare ID card.
For Medicare beneficiaries with a Medicare Advantage plan, the change applies only to their Medicare card and not to their health insurance carrier’s medical card. Those with a Medicare Advantage plan (with Humana or any company) should keep their Medicare Advantage plan ID card with them at all times and use it when going to the doctor, hospital, lab, etc.
Protect yourself from scams. Medicare will never call uninvited to ask for your new Medicare number or get personal or private information. Scam artists may try to get personal information and/or your current Medicare number by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call CMS at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (or TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information on the new Medicare cards, visit: www.cms.gov/medicare/new-medicare-card or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (or TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
— By Catherine Field, Humana Medicare President in Washington