By Greg Dill
If you have Medicare, you’ll be getting a new Medicare card to help protect you from identity fraud.
Criminals are always looking for ways to get your Social Security number, so those numbers have been removed from Medicare cards to make them safer.
Your new card will have a new Medicare number that’s unique to you. The new card will help protect your identity and keep your personal information more secure.
You can start using your new card as soon as you get it. Your Medicare coverage and benefits won’t change at all. And there’s no charge for your new card.
Medicare will automatically mail your new card to the address you have on file with Social Security. So make sure your mailing address is up to date.
If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.
If Social Security has your current mailing address, there’s nothing else you need to do to receive your new card.
Mailing everyone a new card will take time. Your card might arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.
Once you get your new Medicare card, take these three steps to make it harder for someone to steal your information and identity:
- Thoroughly destroy your old Medicare card right away. Shred it or cut it into pieces. Don’t just toss it in the trash.
- Doctors, other health care providers, and Medicare health plans know new Medicare cards are coming. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care.
- Beware of anyone who contacts you and asks for your new Medicare number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. There are no fees whatsoever for the new cards.
Guard your card. Treat your new Medicare number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers. Only give your new Medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, insurers, or other people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare card.
Scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare number) by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, or for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Your new Medicare card is paper. Paper cards are easier for many providers to use and copy, and they save taxpayers a lot of money.
Plus, you can print your own replacement card if you need one.
Carry your new card and show it to your health care providers. Doctors, other providers, and health care facilities will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care.
If you forget your new card, you, your doctor, or other health care provider can look up your new Medicare number online, using a secure tool.
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage plan ID card is your main card for Medicare – you should still keep and use it whenever you need care.
However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card with you, too.
If you haven’t received your new Medicare card by April 2019, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).