Q: My elderly mother told me about a new Medicare card that should be coming to her. I have not heard about this. What should she expect, and is there anything she has to do?
A: New Medicare cards are already in the mail for California residents and your mother should be receiving her card soon, as long as her address is up-to-date. If her address is not updated, she should visit her Social Security online account at ssa.gov/myaccount.
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Medicare will be mailing out the cards in waves according to states, so people in other states will receive their cards at different times.
There are some things she should be aware of regarding her new card that may help her out.
The most important thing she needs to know is that the new Medicare card will automatically come in the mail, and there is nothing she needs to do.
Scammers are reportedly calling Medicare card holders and telling them they must pay for the new card and hand over banking info and/or their Social Security number for verification. This is a scam. Medicare will never call uninvited and ask for personal or private information regarding the new Medicare number and card. If someone does ask for personal information, money, or threatens to cancel health benefits if personal information isn’t shared with them, hang up and report it to Medicare at 800-Medicare (800-633-4227).
For the new cards, Medicare has removed users’ Social Security numbers from the front of the card. Instead of the Social Security number, your mother will now have an 11-digit identification number that is unique to her only. This change was implemented to protect users from identity theft.
Doctors and health care providers and facilities know this change is coming, and will ask for the new Medicare card, so make sure you mother carries it with her.
Once she receives her new Medicare card, she needs to destroy the old one and start using her new card right away.
The new Medicare cards are paper, which makes it easier for providers to use and copy. If your mother loses her card, she can easily print her own replacement card if necessary.
Make sure your mother is aware of who will ask for her Medicare card, so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Only doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, insurers, or people she trusts to work with Medicare on her behalf should be given her Medicare card number.
If your mother does not receive her Medicare card by April 2019, she should contact Medicare directly at 800-Medicare (800-633-4227).
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or email@example.com.