By Cathy Massaro, CCM, MSW

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries. New enrollees to the program will automatically receive the new card when they apply for benefits. For beneficiaries already enrolled in the program the mailings started in April 2018 and have been  completed for the following states:

Alaska, American Samoa, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Maryland, Northern Mariana Islands, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia.

Mailings of the new Medicare Card are in process for the following states:

Arkansas, Connecticut,  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The remaining portion of the United States will follow with an anticipated completion date of April 2019.

The new Medicare cards are going to contain unique numbers made up of combinations of numbers and letters.  Numbers from 0-9 will be used. The letters S, L, O, I, B, and Z will NOT be used. This unique Medicare Beneficiary Number is called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, MBI and does not replace an individual’s social security number.

Beneficiaries do not need to take any action to receive their new Medicare card. They can however log on to www.medicare.gov/newcard to check the status of their new card. Beneficiaries may sign up for email notification about the status of mailings. They should make sure their address is correct and if a resident in a facility ensure that information is known to CMS.

Medicare benefits and coverage will not change and beneficiaries should start to use their new card immediately upon receiving it. The old card should be destroyed but beneficiaries should keep the Medicare Part D card for prescription medications.

It is very important to note, the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services will NOT call beneficiaries unless they are returning a call placed to them by the individual. It is critical the vulnerable Medicare population know this to prevent them from becoming victims of scam artists. Scam artists are contacting Medicare Beneficiaries presenting themselves as representatives of CMS to obtain personal and financial information from individuals. This information is used to steal resources, identities and the security of beneficiaries. An alert, educated and consumer wise Medicare beneficiary is the best defense against these criminals. Help them be prepared and share this warning.

Reference: CMS at cms.gov