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Medicare 101

New Medicare cards began mailing April 2018

by Rebecca Hambleton    |    Published Oct 03, 2019    |    Reviewed by John Krahnert

Medicare began mailing out new Medicare cards between April 2018 and April 2019.

The new cards feature a unique Medicare Number, rather than a Social Security Number.

The new Medicare Numbers are 11 characters including numbers and uppercase letters. They are randomly generated, so no one should be able to determine your Medicare Number unless you give it to them.

The change is a result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, which requires Medicare remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards.

This is an effort to prevent identity theft. By removing your Social Security Number from your Medicare card, the risk that it will be stolen is reduced.

Will my benefits change with my new Medicare card?

It’s important to know that your benefits and coverage will not change with the new Medicare cards.

The only change will be that your card will now feature a new Medicare Number, rather than your Social Security Number.

When will I get my new Medicare card?

Medicare began mailing out new cards in “waves,” beginning in April 2018, with a goal to have all cards replaced by April 2019.

Take a look at the schedule released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

Wave

States Included

Cards Mailing

1

Delaware, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

April – June 2018

2

Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon

April – June 2018

3

Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

After June 2018

4

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

After June 2018

5

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina

After June 2018

6

Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

After June 2018

7

Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands

After June 2018

This chart was taken from CMS’s “New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy” document.

With the new cards, Medicare has designated a transition period, during which you may use both your new and old Medicare cards. The transition period begins April 1, 2018 and runs through December 31, 2019.

What can I do now?

You don’t need to do anything to receive your new Medicare card. They were mailed out automatically according to the above schedule.

CMS does recommend you check to make sure your address is up-to-date with Social Security. The address Social Security has on file is the one that will be used for Medicare.

You can update your address by using the online My Social Security portal, or visiting your local Social Security office.

What do I do when I get my new card?

Once your new card arrives, you can start using it right away. You should also destroy your old card to help protect your Social Security Number.

Keep an eye out for scams

Scams surrounding the new Medicare cards have already been reported.

Medicare and CMS indicate that they will never call you asking for personal information like your new Medicare Number or Social Security Number. There are very limited situations in which Medicare will contact you without your request.

If someone calls you asking for personal information or money, or if someone threatens to cancel your health benefits, hang up immediately.

If you want to check that a call you received is actually from Medicare, or if you want to report a scam, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


Sources:

“New Medicare cards,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), accessed March 27, 2018.

“New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), accessed March 27, 2018.

“Your Medicare card,” Medicare.gov, accessed March 28, 2018.


 

Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for MedicareSupplement.com. He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.

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