Over recent years, identity theft and fraud have become enormous concerns. In most cases, if a thief obtains your Social Security number, name, and address, they can do major damage to your credit report and financial life. Due to these problems, Medicare has decided to discontinue the use of Social Security numbers as part of account numbers, and will no longer display these old numbers on Medicare cards.
So, if you’re currently on Medicare, you will soon receive a new card. Here’s what you need to know about the changeover process.
Can I still use my old card? Medicare will process this change slowly, over about one year from April 2018 to April 2019. In the meantime, continue to use your old card. When your account number is switched over to the new Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), your card will be automatically mailed to you.
What will it look like? You will receive a letter from Medicare containing your new card. The HICN on the card will now include a series of letters and numbers that is no longer based upon your Social Security number.
Do I need to do anything to help Medicare process my new card? No, the changes are processed automatically. You do not need to do anything to help Medicare process your new card. If anyone calls you and says otherwise, hang up the phone immediately. Scam artists are taking advantage of this opportunity to trick Medicare beneficiaries into giving out their Social Security numbers over the phone!
When will I receive my new card? It could arrive as early as April 2018, but the process of changing to new cards will take a full year. Accounts are not processed in any particular order, so even if your friends and neighbors receive their cards, there is nothing to worry about. Yours will arrive sometime before the end of April, 2019.
What if I have Medicare Advantage? Your card does not contain your Social Security number, so you won’t be subject to this change.
Will my benefits change? This change only affects your account number and card. Of course, you can always make changes to your Medicare plan(s) during the Annual Election Period each fall.
If you have any other questions, please give us a call. This is a major switch for the Medicare system, but it will help to protect your sensitive information in the long run.