Q&A: What You Need to Know about the New Medicare Cards and Numbers

Q&A: What You Need to Know about the New Medicare Cards and Numbers

I’m sure you’ve heard about it on the news or from a friend. If you haven’t, I would like to inform you now: As a part of the Social Security Number Removal Initiative, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new Medicare cards with a new number gracing the front. Unlike the old HICN number that is on all the old cards, this new number is not based on your Social Security number. Rather, it is a randomly generated 11-character identifier.


I anticipated a little bit of  “buzz” surrounding this topic, so I thought I would provide quick, simple answers to some of the questions you might be asking out of curiosity or general concern. Let’s get started.


How Much Will It Cost?

It won’t cost you anything. However, the government has set aside $320 million over five years to fund the initiative. It’s amazing how something as simple as changing numbers and letters on a card can end up costing so much!


Why Are They Doing It?

Think $320 million is a lot of money? How about $60 billion? As it turns out, that is one estimate of the amount of money Medicare loses every year due to fraud, according to AARP. The government hopes taking everyone’s Social Security numbers off the cards will help prevent identity theft and put a dent in that multi-billion dollar problem.


How Is My Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) Generated?

Unlike the old Health Insurance Claim Number (the number on your current card), which is based on your Social Security Number, your new Medicare number (the MBI) is a completely randomly generated 11-character identifier. It does not have any special meaning whatsoever.


For more information on the MBI, how it will look on the card, and each of the characters, see this helpful explanation.


When Will I Receive Mine?

They began the transition in April of 2018. Their goal is to have a new Medicare card in the hands of every active Medicare beneficiary by April of 2019.  You can also sign up at medicare.gov to receive an email when your state mails their new cards.


What Does This Mean for My Healthcare Provider?

Your doctors and care facilities will likely need to update their software and information systems to recognize the new number. Issues and challenges may arise as the transition takes place, but all the kinks should be worked out before you get your new card in the mail.


Do I Need to Do Anything?

Be sure to destroy your old card (it has your social security number on it), start using your new card as soon as you get it, keep the new number safe, and also check out our blog post about potential scams that may arise throughout this transition.


Do You Have Other Medicare Questions?

At Seniormark, we’re always here to help. If you have any questions about when and how to sign up for supplements, Medicare Advantage or drug plans, give us a call at 937-492-8800 or click here to sign up for a free consultation!

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