New Medicare cards: What you need to know

Amanda FloecknerHealthy Living

The risk of identity theft and fraud is on the rise, especially among those 65 and older. With so many things to worry about protecting, one thing that may slip your mind is to protect your health-insurance cards. If you haven’t paid close attention, you may have overlooked the fact that your Social Security number acts as your Medicare identification number. This leaves Medicare beneficiaries exposed to the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and illegal use of Medicare benefits. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are taking steps to protect seniors from fraud by removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

Starting in April, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards that will feature a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). You will not experience any benefit changes with the new MBI and you do not have to do anything to receive your new card. They will automatically be sent to the mailing address Medicare has on file for you. If you have recently moved, please make sure Medicare has your current address on file by informing the Social Security Administration of your address change. Please note that 58 billion Medicare beneficiaries require new cards, so this transition will not be complete until April 2019.

Your healthcare providers are already aware of this change and they have been working hard to make sure this is a seamless transition for you. Simply bring your new Medicare card to your medical appointments so staff members can begin billing using your new MBI number. The only task for you is to be aware of scams related to this change. Please be aware that you will not receive phone calls from Medicare asking you to verify your personal information or asking for checking and savings account information. In fact, Medicare will not call you for anything relating to this matter. If you receive a suspicious call, please hang up immediately and be sure not give any personal information out over the telephone.

If you have questions about this change with Medicare, please contact the Island Hospital SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) team at (360) 299-4212, or contact the state SHIBA helpline at (800) 562-6900.