by Rick Beavin, California Medicare President for Humana
What is happening
To combat identity theft, CMS will be changing the format of all Medicare numbers, which means that every existing Medicare beneficiary will get an updated Medicare Card that lists their new Medicare number.
What is changing
Instead of being based on a beneficiary’s Social Security number, each Medicare number will be an individually generated combination of letters and numbers.
The new card is paper, which is easier for providers to use and copy.
Why is this happening
Removing the SSN from Medicare cards will help fight identity theft for people with Medicare. In doing so, CMS aims to better protect:
Private health care and financial information
Federal health care benefit and service payments
When is this happening
All Medicare cards will be replaced between April 2018 and April 2019. California residents will be among the first to receive theirs between April and June this year.
This will be a long process because CMS will be issuing approximately 60 million new ID cards.
Until the new card is received, continue using your current ID card. Once the new card is received, begin using it immediately. Beginning January 1, 2020, only the new card will be usable.
Who will be impacted
New cards will be generated for all active existing and new Medicare beneficiaries. Each beneficiary will have a unique number (e.g., husband and wife will have their own).
What does this mean for people with Medicare
The new cards won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare ID cards as soon as they get them. Until they receive the new Medicare ID card members are to continue using their current Medicare ID card.
For Medicare beneficiaries with a Medicare Advantage plan, the change applies only to their Medicare card and not to their health insurance carrier’s medical card, such as their Humana Medicare Advantage card.
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan (with Humana or any company), your Medicare Advantage plan ID card should be kept and used when going to the doctor, hospital, lab, etc.
How do I protect myself from scams
Medicare will never call you uninvited to ask you to get your new Medicare number or get personal or private information.
Scam artists may try to get personal information and/or your current Medicare Number by contacting you about your new card. 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 the Medicare government office at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).