Medicare Cards: What is New and Why

new medicare card

Medicare beneficiaries, did you get your new Medicare card yet?  I did.  I have been waiting for the new card since it was announced last year that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) would finally comply with the mandate to remove the beneficiary’s Social Security number from the Medicare card.  My new ID number is reminiscent of the temporary password issued when you cannot remember your current password, a string of numbers and letters that make no sense.  That is the point, however, since identity theft was so easy when so many entities had copies of my Medicare card.

I was, however, surprised by the recently published results of the 2018 AARP survey: Experience and Knowledge of Medicare Card Scams. Of the approximately 800 adults ages 65 and older who responded to the survey, only 4 percent said that they heard “a lot” about the change in the Medicare card, 21 percent said “only some” and a whopping 49 percent said that they heard nothing at all.   This is interesting since there have been explanatory inserts with Medicare mailings for months, even if everyone remained unaware of the impending change through other sources.

Even more disturbing is that these same survey takers were asked “what will be different about the new Medicare card?”  Twenty four percent said that there will be a new personal identification number, and the Social Security number will no longer be used.  Four percent said that nothing will change.  However, 68 percent said that they were not sure of what change would occur.

Three in four (75%) of Medicare beneficiaries surveyed were not sure or were incorrect about the key change on the cards, which is a new identification number.  Nearly two thirds (63%) were unsure or incorrect in believing that Medicare will charge a $25.00 processing fee for the new card (they are not).  Over half (56%) were not sure or incorrect in thinking that Medicare will call them to verify their Social Security number before they can get their new card (they won’t).  However, at least one in three respondents said that they are extremely or very concerned about being the target of a Medicare scam or a victim of identity theft.

Pennsylvania is on the leading edge of the roll out of the new cards, which are still paper, and look the same as the old cards except for the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier which was randomly generated; additionally, they do not need to be signed.  Protect yourself and your identity by being aware of potential scams and what is changing and not changing on your new Medicare card.

— Written by Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., CELA*

*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose.  If you are faced with a legal matter, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure that you are protected.