New Medicare cards being mailed this month
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. To implement this change, a new, unique Medicare Number is replacing the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on each new Medicare card. Starting back in April 2018, CMS has been mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare on a flow basis, based on geographic location and other factors.
The new Medicare cards no longer contain a person’s Social Security number, but rather a unique, randomly-assigned Medicare number that protects the identities of people with Medicare reduces fraud and offers better safeguards of important health and financial information.
The government is gradually replacing Medicare cards for the 60 million people covered by the federal health plan. Previously, the cards used the recipient’s Social Security number as his or her Medicare number, which posed a risk of identity theft. Congress mandated a change in 2015. Work on this important initiative was made possible by the enactment of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).
The new cards use an 11-character Medicare identifier that contains both numbers and letters, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs Medicare.
“Removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is one of the many ways CMS is committed to putting patients first and improving the consumer healthcare experience,” said Jeff Hinson, Regional Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). “This change not only protects Medicare patients from fraud, but also safeguards taxpayer dollars by making it harder for criminals to use Social Security numbers to falsely bill Medicare for care services and benefits that were never performed.”
Earlier this month, CMS began mailing the new Medicare cards to people who currently have Medicare benefits in Louisiana and Mississippi. Additionally, people who are new to Medicare, started to receive their new Medicare cards in April along with others across the country when the mailing first began. As soon as people receive their new Medicare card, they should safely and securely destroy their old Medicare card and keep their new Medicare number confidential.
The new Medicare card will not change any of the program benefits and services that eligible people enrolled in Medicare receive. People with Medicare and their caregivers can visit medicare.gov/newcard to find out when new Medicare cards will be mailed to their area. They can also sign up for email notifications about the new card mailing and check the status in their state.
Healthcare providers, suppliers and people with Medicare will be able to use secure look up tools that allow quick access to the new Medicare numbers when needed. There will also be a 21-month transition period for healthcare providers and suppliers to use either the former Social Security-based Medicare number or the new Medicare number to ensure a seamless transition.
As the new Medicare cards are being mailed, people with Medicare should look out for scams and follow these tips:
Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information so you can obtain your new Medicare card.
Don’t pay for your new Medicare card. It’s free. If anyone calls or approaches you and says you need to pay for it, that’s a scam.
Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would health insurance or credit cards.
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.