Be Sure To Show Your Insurance Cards

Question: Do I need to show my insurance cards every time I see a provider or go to the pharmacy? What is your advice?

Answer: I have been asked this question many times. My answer is almost always ‘to carry your insurance cards with you all the time’. You never know when you might need them.

Your insurance may have changed for the new year; it is your responsibility to inform those providers of the change. This is also the time of year when you want to be sure that your pharmacy, doctors and other providers have your current insurance cards. You may have one plan for 2023 and a different plan for 2024. You may need medications now, and you will most likely need medications during 2024. Your pharmacy cannot process your prescriptions properly without the correct information. Your physician cannot process your referrals or claims without knowing who carries your insurance and who to contact. So, this time of year I think it is very important to carry and show your insurance cards at all your appointments.

It is also important to be patient with those pharmacy staff members who are trying to deal with hundreds of their clients who may be getting new prescription drug coverage with new rules, new formularies and new billing procedures.

There is a lot that changes from year to year, and it isn’t just those with Medicare that this impacts. Many employer insurance products and Marketplace plans change for the new year.

Also remember that your EPIC card is useful to show at the pharmacy as well if you are a member of EPIC. EPIC is the New York State Pharmacy assistance product that those over 65, who live in New York State and whose income is less than $75,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a couple. If you have questions about EPIC, call 1-800-332-3742, to learn more.

The main reason that we tell you not to carry these types of things in your wallet is because of the risk of Identity Theft. Identity theft can be devastating when it happens. Your world is turned upside down. You can protect yourself by not leaving your insurance cards out where others can see them. I was in line at the cash register the other day and the person ahead of me had a wallet that had her Medicare Card in a very visible spot. That is leaving you open to Medicare Fraud.

My recommendation is to carry those insurance cards with you but leave them in a spot where they can’t be seen unless you remove them and hand them to someone. Or put them in something besides your wallet. A separate case that holds those types of cards may do just the trick. It is also wise to have a photocopy of all of these cards safely at home, in case you lose the originals. Photocopy the front and back so you have the contact information as well.

Don’t leave your purse/wallet unattended on a chair, cart or coat rack. Don’t bring it to a party and leave it in the other room. You can bring a purse/wallet, but leave those insurance/ID types things out of it.

You can also protect yourself by checking your monthly prescription drug print outs from your drug company and the Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company. Reviewing this information to be sure that all of the items were in fact prescriptions you received or doctors you have seen, allows you to protect yourself from medical fraud.

With a little caution you can carry this information safely. I want to remind you again to show your insurance cards, especially if they are new this year to your providers. This makes everyone’s job easier.

Happy New Year! 2024 looks to have lots of interesting things happening for all of us! Looking forward to more questions and answers as we age together in 2024!

Janell Sluga is a Geriatric Care Manager helping seniors in our community access services and insurance. To reach her, please email editorial@post-journal.com.


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