New Medicare Numbers and Cards to be Delivered Starting April 2018
From April of 2018 through April of 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be mailing new Medicare cards to all people currently enrolled in Medicare. (Click here for the mailing schedule.)
Medicare is removing the Social Security numbers from the cards and replacing it with a new Medicare number unique to each person. This has been done to help prevent personal identity theft and other fraudulent activities. Anyone that enrolls in Medicare for the first time from April 2018 on will receive the new card.
What to Do if Your New Card Hasn’t Arrived Just Yet
A transition period from April 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019 will allow both types of cards to be used but as soon as you receive the new card, the old card should be destroyed and only the new one should be used.
The new Medicare numbers should be considered personal information and should be guarded closely the same way all personal information should be protected. You should only ever give the information on your new Medicare card to trusted healthcare professionals such as your doctor or pharmacist. Remember, Medicare will never call you and ask for private information over the phone so be aware of scams! If you receive any calls that are concerning, immediately hang up and call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
The New Cards Will Look Different
The new Medicare numbers will still be 11 characters long but will be randomly generated. If you were wondering whether the new Medicare numbers have any specific meaning, they don’t, however, they will follow a particular format. The 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th and 11th characters will always be numbers. The 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th characters will be letters. The 3rd and 6th characters can be either a letter or a number. Digits 0-9 are all being used, and all letters from A to Z will be used except for the following: S, L, O, I, B, and Z won’t be used because they are sometimes mistaken for other letters and/or numbers and the Medicare numbers need to be as easy to read as possible. The new cards have also removed gender and there is no signature line. You can view a sample here.
Medicare Advantage Plans
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan such as a PPO or an HMO, the card issued by that plan will still be the primary card you should use for Medicare. You should carry it with you and present it whenever you are asked for the card at a provider’s office. If you have a Medicare drug plan, you will also continue to use that card, as well. Keep in mind, though, that you may be asked to present your new Medicare card at a provider’s office, so it’s a good idea to carry it with you in case it’s needed.
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