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Jan 19

New Medicare Cards to be Distributed Beginning April 2018

As you may have heard, or perhaps you’ve seen a recent TV commercial, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon be issuing every Medicare beneficiary a new Medicare Card, without Social Security Numbers, to prevent fraud, fight identity theft, and keep taxpayer dollars safe.

It’s unfortunate that criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for medical identity theft, including when someone illegally uses another person’s Medicare number. An identity thief may bill Medicare for expensive services that were never provided or overbill for provided services. This can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which can mean delayed care or denied services for patients and impacts taxpayer funding.

To help combat this, all Medicare beneficiaries will receive a new card with a unique, randomly-assigned Medicare number.  It will consist of eleven characters, a combination of numbers and uppercase letters.  Because it is randomly generated, there is no connection to any other personal identifying information. This new number will replace the Social Security-based number currently used on all Medicare cards, and it’s designed to protect the personal information of Medicare beneficiaries.

The newly designed Medicare cards are scheduled to begin mailing in April 2018, and all cards should be replaced by April 2019. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, or soon will be, you don’t need to do anything.  You can start using your new card as soon as you get it.

When you get your new card, safely and securely destroy your current Medicare card.  Make sure you bring the new card to your doctors’ appointments, and always keep your new number confidential.  This will help protect your personal identity and prevent medical identity fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. Additionally, you and your health care providers will be able to use secure online tools being developed that will support quick access to your Medicare number when needed.