Many people ask why the ID number on their Medicare card is identical to their Social Security number (SSN). The Medicare ID is more than an identifier. It’s proof of insurance. Beneficiaries need to show their Medicare card at the doctor’s office and the hospital on their first visit in order to have Medicare pay for treatment.
How to Protect Your Social Security Number
The Social Security Administration suggests that you do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. You should ask why your number is needed, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give out your Social Security number.
Keep your Medicare card and any other document that shows your Social Security number in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number. Most healthcare providers already have your information in their electronic systems. However, if you feel more comfortable having your Medicare information with you, you can make a photocopy of your card and block all but the last four digits. This is sufficient most of the time. However, you will need your actual Medicare card with you the first time you visit a new health care provider, who will make a photocopy of it for their files.
It is also suggested that you make photocopies and write down the numbers of your important insurance cards so that you have a record for future reference if you lose any of them. Keep them all in a safe place.
Lost or Stolen Cards
If your Medicare or Social Security cards are lost or stolen, you can replace them by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213, applying online at www.ssa.gov/medicarecard or go to the local Social Security office at 7440 Providence Drive, Woodridge, 866-303-2724.
Note: If you get Medicare health or drug benefits from a Medicare Advantage plan such as an HMO, PPO or PDP, you need to call your plan to get your plan card replaced. If you get Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board, call the Railroad Retirement Board Help Line at 800-833-4455 to order a replacement Medicare card.
If your card has been lost or stolen, you will need to watch out for Medicare fraud. You can do this by checking your quarterly summary notices for services or supplies you did not receive. Call the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 800-447-8477.
Sources: (1) AARP, www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-07-2012/medicare-card-identity-theft.html. (2) Medicare, www.medicare.gov;
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