Due to concerns over fraud and identity theft, Medicare will soon discontinue the use of Social Security numbers as identifying account numbers. This is good news, because it will keep your personal information much more safe, but it does necessitate a complicated change within the system. The main change you need to know about concerns your new Medicare card, which will arrive in your mailbox soon.
What will the new cards look like? Instead of displaying your Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), your new Medicare card will include a number that was generated just for you. This will be a series of letters and numbers that do not give away sensitive information that could be used to commit fraud against you.
When will the new cards arrive? Medicare will begin processing and mailing new cards in April 2018. However, the process is expected to require a full year to complete, so you might not receive your new card right away. You can continue using your old card until the new one arrives in your mailbox.
Does this affect Medicare benefits? Your Medicare benefits are not affected by this switch. When your new card arrives, begin using it. Meanwhile, your plan stays the same unless you make changes during the Annual Election Period (which happens during the fall of each year).
Will Medicare Advantage Plan members receive a new card? No. Medicare Advantage Plans do not use Social Security numbers or other personal identifying information within their plan numbers. So if you have an Advantage Plan, you won’t need a new number or a new card. You don’t have to do anything.
Do I need to help Medicare process my card? No! In fact, if anyone calls you and asks for your Medicare number, hang up the phone immediately. Medicare is processing these changes automatically, and will not call to ask for your card number or any other personal identifying information. This is likely to be a con artist who is trying to take advantage of the situation.
Changes can be difficult for a variety of reasons. In this case, the change should help to protect Medicare recipients from theft and fraud. So it’s a good thing! Just keep an eye on your mailbox, starting in April, and keep in mind that your new card might not arrive immediately. If you have any other questions about your Medicare plan, give us a call and we can help.