Beginning in April, Medicare started sending out new cards to all its members. The mailings will take place in waves. The person you care for may not receive theirs until later in the year. You don’t need to do anything—or PAY anything. The new card will arrive automatically. (The only exception to this is people who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Those cards will remain the same, so no mailing expected.)
Medicare benefits have NOT changed! The program your loved one is enrolled in stays the same. Just the card is changing.
Why change the card? Primarily, it’s for security reasons. When Medicare first started, it made sense to use Social Security numbers as the identifying number for beneficiaries. That was before the age of identity theft.
The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Medicare is giving everyone new numbers. There will be no rhyme or reason or hidden meaning to the combination of numbers and letters assigned. Nothing to reveal information about the cardholder.
Destroy the old card securely. Shredding or burning the card is best. It does have your relative’s Social Security number. You don’t want that getting into the wrong hands!
Watch out for scammers. Sadly, there are always those who prey on elders during a change like this. Be aware that Medicare will telephone only if the beneficiary has phoned in and left a message requesting a call back. The insurance company for Part D (drugs) or Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) may call. But they will not ask for the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier. They will already know it. If someone calls and requests verification of the number, hang up immediately. Then call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
You can sign up for notifications about the new card at medicare.gov/newcard/.