Question: I heard Medicare will be issuing new benefit cards. Is there anything I need to do to order the new card or activate it once it comes in the mail?
Answer: The Center for Medicare Services will be issuing new benefit cards to all individuals receiving Medicare starting April 1, 2018. The good news is that your Social Security number will no longer be the same as your Medicare number. The new Medicare number will consist of random numbers and letters assigned to each member. There is nothing you will need to do in order to register for a new card. The rollout period will begin on April 1, 2018 and end around April 1, 2019. This means your family member or friend could receive their card months before you receive your card. Do not worry, all members will receive new cards within this year period. Additionally, once you receive your new card, there is no activation required. The card can be used immediately.
The hope of the new card is to prevent fraud as many scammers would use a person’s Medicare card in identity theft since it was the same as the person’s Social Security number. However, there will be scammers trying to use the rollout of the new card to gain access to your personal information. It is important to stay aware and not give information over the phone. Some scammers will pose as a Medicare representative and tell you that he or she requires certain information to order you the new benefit card. They may ask for your current Medicare number (which is your Social Security number), correct address and telephone number. Do not give this information to anyone over the phone. Medicare will not be making these calls as everyone is automatically enrolled in getting a new card. Other scammers may call regarding an “activation fee” for the new benefit card. There is no fee and no activation process. Once you receive your new card you can use it immediately.
It is great news that your Medicare number will no longer be the same as your Social Security number. This will hopefully prevent some of the ways scammers steal identities. If you have any questions regarding your new card or receive a call that you believe may be a scammer, you can call NY Senior Medicare Patrol at 877-678-4697.