New Medicare Cards in 2018 – Questions & Answers

New Medicare Cards in 2018 - Questions & Answers

You likely have some questions about the new Medicare cards that are rolling out in 2018...here are some answers.

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Steve Thurmond here with Medigap Tennessee…your source for Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug and Dental plans in 32 states and counting from coast to coast.

As you may have heard, Medicare is finally taking some steps to protect your sensitive information by issuing new Medicare Cards. If you haven’t noticed, your current Medicare Card has a social security-based HICN (Health Insurance Claim Number) as your identifier. In hindsight, this was obviously a poor choice by Medicare when it was established over 50 years ago, but who could have predicted that fraud and identity theft would be the major problem it is today?

As with any transition in life, there’s going to be some confusion and many questions, so I’m going to provide you with some answers and hopefully bring some clarity to this transition as it rolls out this April, 2018. Here are a few questions you may be asking:

Q: Why am I getting a new medicare card?

A: To put it simply, these new cards will help protect Medicare enrollees against fraud and identity theft. The number on your current card is based on your social security number, which is specific only to you. While the new number on the new Medicare card is also unique for every individual, it’s a totally random set of 11 numbers and capital letters and is called your MBI (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier).

The characters are not based on anything, nor do they have any hidden meaning. By removing the social security numbers from current Medicare cards, it strengthens fraud protection for about 58 million Americans currently on Medicare and the 10,000 people per day that are turning 65 in this country and becoming new Medicare beneficiaries.

Q: Once I get my new card, am I still at risk for fraud?

A: With any card that’s personal to you, there’s always a risk for identity theft. It’s important that you treat your new card like a credit card. Do not share your Medicare card information with anyone who shouldn’t have it.

That being said, no one from Medicare or Social Security will ever contact you asking for personal information unless permission has been granted, by you, prior to the phone call.

So, if someone calls you claiming to be from Medicare services and tells you that “they need your Medicare card number,” and “you won’t receive your Medicare benefits unless you give it to them,” or that “there is a charge or fee to receive your new Medicare card,” or if they threaten to “cancel your Medicare coverage if you don’t share your information” you can assume it’s a scam and you should hang up the phone immediately.

I repeat…Medicare WILL NOT call you for any personal information or request any kind of fee or money from you in order to send out your new card…Medicare already has your information and will automatically send out your new card and new info to you…you DO NOT have to do anything, pay any fee, or give anyone any personal information to receive your new Medicare card in the mail.

So, keep on your toes, some phone scammers are very slick, convincing and aggressive. Don’t argue with them or volunteer any information…simply hang up the phone.

Q: When will I recieve my new Medicare card and what happens when it arrives?

A: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more commonly known as CMS, will start mailing out new cards in April 2018, with a completion deadline of April 2019. Current Medicare recipients will automatically get new cards in the mail…there is nothing you have to do.

That being said, if you have recently moved or plan to move in the near future, be sure to call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE and/or Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and make sure they have your current and proper address on file.

New cards will be mailed out in seven waves based on geographic location. Between April and June of 2018, the first wave of new cards will go out to the following states:

Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, and Oregon.

Mailing to all other states will begin after June 2018 and all cards should be sent out to all Medicare recipients in all states by April 2019. Don’t worry if your friends get their new Medicare card before you… yours is coming!

You should start using your new Medicare card as soon as you receive it, as you’ll be instructed to safely and securely dispose of your old card once your new card arrives.

Q: So, what if it’s April 2019 and you still haven’t received your new Medicare card! What should you do?

A: Don’t panic. You should receive your new Medicare Card soon, but for instances like these, CMS has issued a 21-month transition period. This means that from April 2018 to January 2020, you CAN show your old Medicare card to your doctors, hospitals or service providers until your new Medicare card arrives. However, after January 1, 2020, you must use your new card for all your Medicare needs. If for some reason you don’t have your new card by January 2020, call Medicare or Social Security and make sure they have your current and proper address on file so they can send out your new card.

Q: What will my new Medicare card look like?

A: Your new Medicare card will be red, white, and blue, just like your old one. It will have your name, sex, new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier number, and the date in which your Part A and/or B coverage starts. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon receive an updated version of the Medicare and You handbook via snail mail. The handbook shows a picture of the new Medicare card and has more detailed information about the transition.

Q: Will my new card affect my current Medicare benefits?

A: No, not at all. Those who will be receiving new Medicare cards are people who are already enrolled in Medicare and your benefits and coverage will stay exactly the same. Your new cards will also have no affect on your Medicare Supplemental, Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan benefits, so there’s nothing you need to do in regards to those plans either. That should cover most concerns associated with the new Medicare cards, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time. Just call us toll free at 1-800-431-5431 and we’ll be happy to speak with you at length about this transition.

We can also help you with any coverage options you may need. Whether you’re turning 65 and about to start to Medicare, retiring and have questions about losing or leaving your current employer coverage, or whether you already have a Supplemental or Advantage plan that you feel you’re overpaying for…give us a call for a free, no obligation, consultation.

We’ll spend as much time with you as you need and show you ALL of the options available to you in your specific market. Yes, we’re in Tennessee, but we’re licensed meet your insurance needs in 32 states and counting, so just give us a call at 1-800-431-5431…and we’ll be happy to help.

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