MEDICARE ‚Äî 2018 and Beyond
By Charles Clarkson, Esq. Project Director/VP, Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County
New Medicare Cards
Starting in April 2018, new Medicare cards will be issued. These new cards will remove the Social Security numbers from the cards. This is a significant change for Medicare and it holds the promise of substantially reducing fraud, both in Medicare and in general. The cards will look similar to the current ones with some style changes (See photo).
When beneficiaries get their new cards, they should start using them. Not all beneficiaries will receive their new cards at the same time. A year has been allocated to issuing approximately 57 million new cards, through April 2019. There will be a transition period (through December 2019) when both the old and new Medicare cards can be used. Of course, beneficiaries will still have to protect their new cards.
The card will now contain a new Medicare number (called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) selected at random and made up of letters and numbers. This card allows access to Medicare services and should be protected at all times. Beneficiaries should leave their Medicare cards at home whenever possible and take them with them only when they need medical services.
The SMP of New Jersey is very concerned about fraud involving the new Medicare cards. We have already heard of cases when beneficiaries have been scammed into paying for the new Medicare cards. Remember, the new Medicare cards will be FREE. You do not have to do anything to receive the new card. Make sure that the Social Security Administration has your current address to ensure that the card is mailed to the correct address. Medicare or Social Security will not call you on the telephone. Do not give any callers any personal information if they call you about the new Medicare card, especially your checking account information to pay for the card. If you receive a suspicious call, just hang up.
Medicare beneficiaries will receive written explanations in the mail from the appropriate government agencies about the new cards. We can also expect an education campaign on television and radio to explain about the new cards.