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Image of a toy mailman with writing, "New Medicare cards are coming to a mailbox near you", and an envelope with a blue stamp.Do you know that you’ll be getting a new Medicare Card soon?

I have been advocating the removal of Social Security numbers on Medicare Cards for years.  Then in 2015, with the passage of MACRA, my vision is becoming a reality.  This is what I wrote when I found out:

This is fantastic news for Medicare beneficiaries!  No longer must you worry about carrying around an insurance card that puts you at risk for Identity theft.  The data breeches that we’ve had over the last few years solidified the need for the change in law, and we at MedicareQuick are thrilled to see the change.1

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, required Medicare to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards.

Although this new number, called an MBI, should be safer than using your Social Security number, it should still be kept secure, because it can still be used for Medical ID theft.

Medicare has already started working on getting your New Medicare Card to you.

The first wave of new Medicare cards will be mailed out in April 2018.  The cards will be sent to people in a specific geographic location.  Because the cards are being mailed, it is very important that Medicare has your updated address If they don’t have it, you won’t get a copy of your new card.  Since the MBI won’t be “guessable”, you’ll want to be sure you get your card so you won’t lose access to care.

There will be a transition period that will start on April 1st, 2018, and will run all the way through December 31st, 2019.  But starting on 1/1/2020, everyone will need to start using the new MBI numbers and cards.

Mailing a New Medicare Card to each beneficiary in the USA will take some time.

Your neighbor might get her new Medicare card at a different time than you receive yours.

CMS is providing outreach and education to:

  • Approximately 60 million beneficiaries, their families, advocacy groups, and caregivers
  • Health Plans
  • The provider community (1.5 million providers)

Whats the difference between the two cards?

The current number, known as a HICN, is normally 10-11 digits long, and consists of your Social Security number, and generally one letter, although not always.

The new MBI will be 11 digits, and will consist of numbers and uppercase letters.  Each one is unique and made of randomly generated characters that don’t have any special meaning.  The HICN letters do have special meaning, so that will be changing.  And again, these won’t be “guessable” like the HICN.

Image of the new Medicare Card

10 things to know about your new Medicare card

  • Your new Medicare card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect your identity.
  • Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  • Your new card will automatically come to you. You don’t need to do anything to get your new Medicare card.
  • Mailing takes time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.
  • Your new Medicare card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
  • Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away.
  • If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare—you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card too.
  • Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know it’s coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.
  • Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
  • If you forget your new card, you, your doctor or other health care provider may be able to look up your Medicare Number online.2

What does the New Medicare Card mean for you?

  • Your benefits aren’t changing.
  • You can start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.
  • You should update your mailing address with Medicare as soon as possible.
  • If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213. TTY: 1-800-325-0778.
  • Your doctor and insurance company have until 12/31/19 to start using the new numbers.  It will take time for them to change their systems too.

And, there are some scams happening around the changeover.  Beware of anyone who contacts you about your new Medicare card.

Medicare will never ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare number and card

If you have questions about Medicare, we can help!  Contact us today.

 

  1. It’s About Time!!!! Medicare and Identity Theft – MedicareQuick, It’s About Time!!!! Medicare and Identity Theft, http://medicarequick.com/its-about-time-medicare-and-identity-theft/
  2. Your Medicare card | Medicare.gov, Your Medicare card, https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/your-medicare-card.html
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