You’ll Receive Your New Medicare Card Soon

Question: I am on Medicare, and I read earlier in the year that Medicare is sending all of us new cards. When will I get mine?

Answer: June is here! You can definitely start watching for that new Medicare card!

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new Medicare cards to everyone already on Medicare. The new cards began mailing April 2018 and will be finishing up by April 2019. The new Medicare cards have a different Claim number. Historically this Claim number was a Social Security number followed by a letter (A, B, W or maybe T). There are actually many different letters used for different reasons.

The new Medicare cards will have a uniquely assigned combination of letters and numbers, 11 (eleven) digits long. This new Medicare card will be slightly smaller than the previous Medicare card, so it will probably fit better in your wallet.

Your question of when you will get yours may not be completely answerable. They began mailing the new cards nationally in April of 2018, as I noted previously. Medicare sent out a time line, which indicated that New York state will begin seeing replacement Medicare cards during the calendar month of June. So, the answer is that sometime between June 2018 and April 2019 you should see your new Medicare card arrive in the mail. That is a long time to watch for something in the mail!

For those individuals that are NEW to Medicare, they will receive the newer version of the Medicare card usually three months prior to when they are eligible for Medicare. An example; If born in August of 1953, you turn 65 in August of 2018. Your Medicare would begin 8-1-18. Your Medicare card could arrive as soon as May 2018. If you collect Social Security, your Medicare card is mailed to you automatically as described. If you do not collect Social Security you need to sign up for Medicare, so you could do that anytime in May, June or July to begin 8-1-18 (the three months before your birthday month).

We have actually seen a few individuals come to us with the newer version of the Medicare card. I will say they were all individuals who were NEW to Medicare.

The new Medicare card is still a paper card. You can laminate it, if you like. You can also cover it with clear packing tape to make it last longer.

In the event it is ever destroyed or needs to be replaced, you can request a new one. The process is easy and can now be done a number of ways. Historically we have told you to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). This contact can be done a variety of ways, and once requested, SSA will send you a replacement Medicare card.

To contact SSA, you can either call 1-800-772-1213; go to the website, or call the following local offices: Jamestown at 1-877-319-9182; or visit at 321 Hazeltine Ave. for Jamestown. Olean at 1-877-379-5773 or visit at Suite 6 at 175 North Union St., Olean, NY; or Dunkirk at 1-888-862-2139 or visit at Suite 2 at 437 Main St., Dunkirk. The local offices are open to the public Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Wednesday SSA is open 9 a.m. to noon.

If you are using the website, the process the first time may take a bit longer. There are two ways to do this. One is to go to the www.ssa.gov website and create a ‘my Social Security’ Account. Once this account is established you can log in and use this for many things, and ordering a new Medicare Card is just one of them. This Social Security Portal is similar to what many companies, banks, doctor’s offices and government agencies are encouraging you to use now. You create an ID and a password which then allows you to access your information 24 hours a day.

The SSA.gov website can also give you information about your actual benefits, your tax documents and many other questions you might have for the Social Security Administration. This ID and password is something you are going to want to remember (or put somewhere you can find it when you don’t remember). Now that you have created the ‘my Social Security’ account you can use the website to order your new Medicare card and many other things

The newest way to get a new Medicare card is to use the www.mymedicare.gov website. This website will also require you to establish a login and password. Once established, this website can give you lots of information. At www.mymedicare.gov you can see information about insurance claims, procedures that you have had, and when you can have them again. You can also see and print off your Medicare card for immediate use. Realize this will print on the paper you have in your printer, so it won’t be card stock unless you have that in your printer. This could be very useful if you are out and about and don’t have your card with you. You can use your smartphone to access your mymedicare.gov account and then show the card to your provider.

The new Medicare card is a pretty big change for the whole system. The computer coding all had to be changed at every level. This change has been in the works for years. Getting all those new cards issued and mailed is another big project. There are over 55 Million individuals on Medicare. That is a lot of work to produce all new cards, delivered and begin using them.

The change was designed to help protect your identity from fraud and theft. Once you receive your NEW card, you can put away your old paper Medicare card and begin to use the new card immediately. The new Medicare number assigned to just you will be what is called an ‘alpha-numeric” ID. This means it will be a combination of letters and numbers. The new unique number assigned to you will be different (and maybe not as easy to remember). Since you probably won’t ‘remember’ your new ID card number you will definitely have to carry it with you.

It is important for everyone to remember that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will send your ID automatically. You do NOT have to ask for it, consent to have it sent to you or talk with anyone over the phone about it. PLEASE DO NOT give out that information over the phone. DO NOT respond to a person or organization who says they will help get your new Medicare Card.

It is also important to remember that this new Medicare Card does NOT change your Medicare benefit in any way. If you have other insurance that you use, you will STILL GET a new Medicare Card. The sending of your new Medicare Card does not mean you lost your other insurance.

I want to reinforce some other issues. Many people tell you NOT to carry your Medicare card regularly. Your Medicare card has some pretty significant and important information on it. So carry your Medicare card when you go to Doctor appointments and planned hospital stays. If you wish, the rest of the time, you can leave your Medicare card at home in a safe place. That may help to reduce Medicare Fraud and identity theft. I also suggest not putting your Medicare card in a spot in your wallet where it can be seen unless you pull it out because someone requested it. Many of us have spots in our wallets that can be seen over your shoulder or in line in the store. Your Medicare card should NOT be in a spot like that.

Once you get the new card, protect it and keep it with you when you need it or in a spot in your wallet that is hidden to those looking over your shoulder.

I am excited about this change, but then I always get excited about Medicare!

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at janells@lutheran-jamestown.org.

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