NMC Commentary

Are There New Medicare Cards Being Distributed?

Yes! I have been asked to help raise awareness that Medicare is distributing new cards that will have a new Medicare number that is unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number, to help protect your identity.  These cards are currently on their way to Vermonters.

The Medicare.gov website has a wealth of information, including pictures of the new Medicare cards. That site explains, “When you’re enrolled in Medicare, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail. If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of getting disability benefits. Your Medicare card shows that you have Medicare health insurance. It shows whether you have Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Medical Insurance) or both, and it shows the date your coverage starts. Be sure to carry your card with you when you’re away from home. Let your doctor, hospital, or other health care provider see your card when you need hospital, medical or other health services.”

Here are important things to know about your new Medicare card:

  • “Your new card will automatically come to you. You don’t need to do anything as long as your address is up to date. If you need to update your address, visit your Social Security account online.”
  • “Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.”
  • “Mailing takes time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.”
  • “Your new 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. And, if you have a Medicare drug plan, be sure to keep that card as well. Even if you use one of these other cards, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so keep it with you.”
  • “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.”

Medicare also cautions individuals to be on the lookout for scams. They are clear that “Medicare will never call you uninvited and ask you to give us personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.”  They point out that “scam artists may try to get personal information (like your current Medicare Number) by contacting you about your new card.”  They advise that “if someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).”

Changing from the use of social security numbers to personal Medicare numbers is an important step to help avoid identity theft. Please watch for your new Medicare card in the mail and carry it with you when you are seeking care.  If you have any questions regarding this, please call NMC Community Relations at 524-1280 and they will connect you to the answers you need.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer