You may have heard that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new Medicare cards and wondered when you will be getting yours. The short answer is – not for a while. But scammers are not waiting to take advantage of any confusion about the new Medicare cards. Here are the facts…

Currently, if you look at your Medicare card, you will see that the nine digit number on it is a Social Security number, usually your own but it could be your spouse’s, a parent’s, etc. The problem is that a Social Security number is the key for a scammer to steal your identity and take out loans or open credit cards in your name.

To address this, Congress passed a law last year called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which among other things, requires CMS to develop and implement a plan to give every Medicare beneficiary a new Medicare card with a new identifier that is not tied to a Social Security number. However, this change is not happening immediately. Medicare is the largest insurance in the world, which is why this will be a huge change and why CMS and the many providers who accept Medicare need time to update their systems to accept the new identifier. CMS has begun outreach and education efforts with these providers.

Beneficiaries will not see their new cards before April 2018. That is the earliest month CMS has said they will start mailing new cards to beneficiaries. The new Medicare card will have a completely new and randomly assigned identifier that will be a mix of numbers and letters, 11 characters long. The change to this new card will not change people’s Medicare benefits. Your benefits will stay the same.

So how could a scammer use this change to take your personal information? This change has caused confusion, and scammers love to take advantage of confusion. Scammers claiming to represent Medicare call you and ask for your current Medicare number in order to send you a new card. Remember! Medicare already has this information, including you mailing address. When CMS sends a new Medicare card, they will mail it to you.

Beware! If you receive such a call do not give out your personal information. Report the call to the Illinois SMP (senior Medicare patrol) at AgeOptions at 1-800-699-9043. Or call your police department.

Source: Elgin Police Department, Jan-April 2017 newsletter

Hanna Benioff
Senior Services Coordinator
Phone: (630) 719-6682

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