What you need to know about the new Medicare cards


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New Medicare cards are coming for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) made a few changed to Medicare, the new cards being one of them. The Act requires that Social Security numbers be removed from all Medicare Cards by April 2019. This is being done to protect identities, making Medicare beneficiaries’ Social Security numbers harder to get a hold of.

The cards will have new numbers on them, unique to each individual beneficiary. The numbers will actually be composed of numbers and letters, being called the Medicare Beneficiary Number (MBI).

The new cards will also be paper, which is more economical to print and easier to use. Beneficiaries will also be able to print new cards should they need to.

When will I get my new Medicare Card?

You do not need to request a new Medicare card, they are being sent automatically. There will be no cost for this card as well. Mailing of new cards will begin in April 2018. There are 7 waves of mailings, with each wave containing different states. The first wave includes Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. North Carolina will be in the 5th wave. The 7th and final wave will include Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands. All cards have to be mailed out by April 2019.

Do not be worried if you do not get your card at the same time as your friends or family, cards might arrive at different times even if you live in the same state. If you don’t get your new Medicare card by April 2019, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

What should I do with my new Medicare Card?

First, you should make sure your mailing address is up to date. This will make sure your new card gets to you as soon as possible. If you need to do this, you can contact Social Security by going to ssa.gov/myaccount or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Once you get your new card, you should destroy your old card right away. Make sure to do so thoroughly, so no one can steal the info from the old card. The new card does not need to be activated and can be used right away. Doctors know they are coming, so you should have no problems using them. Starting January 1, 2020, doctors will only be able to accept the new Medicare cards.

For people with Medicare Advantage plans, the ID card from your plan is still the main card you will use, do not destroy this. You should carry the new Medicare card with you, as you might be asked to show it.

New Medicare Card Scams

Lastly, beware of anyone contacting you about your new card. There have been scams reported of people trying to get personal information and/or money from Medicare beneficiaries. No one from the Social Security Administration or Medicare will contact you about these new cards. They do not need any personal information from you to get you the new card. There is no charge for the new cards.  People have also reported fraudsters who are calling and offering to track down the new card, this is not real either.

While you are getting a new Medicare number, nothing about your coverage will change. If you have any questions about this card, you can contact Medicare, or call Cardinal, we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Hans Scheil, based in Cary, NC,  is the author of “The Complete Cardinal Guide to Planning for and Living in Retirement” and the accompanying workbook. He can be reached at Hans@CardinalGuide.com.

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