New Medicare Cards – What You Need to Know

The new Medicare cards are coming! With the Equifax security breach in the news, as well as other recent hacks of personal and sensitive information, this news could not come soon enough. Medicare will begin mailing out the new Medicare cards in April 2018.

new Medicare cards

FIRST LOOK! The new Medicare cards will no longer contain your Social Security number. Instead, they will have a random, unique sequence of numbers and letters.

Currently, Medicare cards contain a Social Security number on them with a letter at the end. The letter, by the way, indicates whether you are drawing Social Security yet, and whether your Social Security is based on your work history or that of a spouse, former spouse or deceased spouse. Most Medicare cards contain the Social Security number of the insured person.

In 2015, Congress passed a law requiring Medicare to change the way they identify Medicare beneficiaries on their Medicare cards. It’s a bit of an undertaking with Medicare having to assign all Medicare beneficiaries a new unique number and recreate 60 million Medicare cards. The rollout of the new Medicare cards will take place over a 12-18 month period, and it will begin in April 2018.

“We want to make this process as easy as possible for everybody involved,” said Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, on a conference call Thursday.

Medicare has set up a website specific to the transition, will also be sending out handbooks related to this and has a call center to handle questions specific to the new Medicare cards.

So, what do you, as a Medicare beneficiary, need to know about the new Medicare cards:

  1. First and foremost, you should not do anything with your current card until you receive the NEW Medicare card. Keep using the current card, then once you receive the new one, replace the “old” card (the one with a Social Security number on it) with the new card (the one with the unique set of random numbers and letters on it).
  2. Be patient. CMS Head Seema Verma stresses that the rollout will START in April 2018 but it will carry over into 2019. We would expect it will last until late 2019. There has been no indication yet on how they will decide who gets the new cards first or what order they will go in.
  3. The new cards will be paper, just like the current cards (we know, it doesn’t make sense to us either!). $242 million just doesn’t buy you what it used to, I guess.
  4. Do not give anyone your current Medicare card or any information from it. Just like everything else that pertains to seniors, there is certain to be scams related to the new Medicare card rollout. To repeat, Medicare will NOT be asking you for your old Medicare card back or any information from it.
  5. When you receive the new Medicare card, take care to appropriately and effectively destroy the old one. Remember, it has your Social Security number on it. Burning it up may be taking it too far (but it is paper, after all). Whatever you do – cut it, shred it, burn it, flush it – make sure you leave no trace since it has your personal information.
  6. The new Medicare cards do not affect anything about your actual Medicare coverage. Your benefits will stay the same.
  7. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan instead of “original” Medicare, you will still get a new Medicare card (even though you don’t have to actually use it). Make sure you keep it in case your Advantage plan cancels you or you decide to go back to regular Medicare in the future.
  8. If you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, you will also receive the new Medicare card but should not need to contact your Medigap company with the new information.

If you have any questions about this transition, or anything else related to Medicare, we are here to help. Feel free to contact us online or call us at 877.506.3378.

South Carolina Medicare Resources

For South Carolina Medicare enrollees, there are many resources through which you can get answers to your questions, obtain information about your benefits, and evaluate your current coverage. We’ve compiled a few of those resources below with links to the corresponding web sites:

  1. South Carolina Medicare Insurance – Medicare in SC – This is the home page for Secure Medicare Solutions, which is a leading, independent resource for Medicare and Medicare insurance information in South Carolina. At the site, you can research information about your South Carolina Medicare Supplements coverage or South Carolina Medicare Part D information.
  2. South Carolina Medicare Minutes – South Carolina Medicare Minutes is an independent blog and reference for all things related to South Carolina Medicare and Medicare insurance. The blog has frequent updates about things of interest to those who have Medicare in the Palmetto state.
  3. Medicare.gov – The Official U.S. Government Site for People with Medicare – Medicare.gov is the official government Medicare site. This site give you information about how the various parts of Medicare work overall, how they work with one another, as well as information about how to sign up for the various parts of Medicare.
  4. Center for Medicare Advocacy – This is an independent site with unbiased information about Medicare and how it works. You can get the answers to a lot of frequently asked questions on this site.
  5. Garrett Ball – EzineArticles.com Expert Author – This is the main site for EzineArticles.com, which is a leading, human-reviewed article site, which compiles qualified articles from expert authors from around the world. Garrett Ball, who has been given the designation of expert author, writes articles particularly about South Carolina Medicare Insurance, which can be found on his author home page.

Relocating to SC? What to Do About Your Medicare Insurance

South Carolina has quickly become one of the leading states for retiree relocations. Retirees, predominantly from the Northeast, have been heading to the Coastal regions of the Palmetto State for the great weather, easy living and beaches.

When you move, does your insurance move with you? In most instances, NO. But it depends on the type of plan you have.

I have recently written an article that can help anyone facing this question sort through this complex dilemma. There are three guidelines to helping you find out if your insurance is portable and what to do if it is not: South Carolina Medicare Insurance – A Relocation Guide to Choosing a Plan in the Palmetto State.

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