By Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
Medicare is taking steps to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. This will help prevent fraud, fight identity theft, and keep taxpayer dollars safe. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new, unique Medicare Number will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on each new Medicare card. Starting April 2018, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare on a flow basis. The new cards will have unique-to-you ID numbers.
The mailing schedule is based on geographic location and other factors, and Minnesota residents will start seeing their cards arrive some time after June 1.
The card will be mailed to the Medicare beneficiary's address on file at the Social Security Administration (SSA), so make sure your address is up to date. You can call 800-772-1213 to correct your address. Understand that getting your card may take some time. You might not get yours when your friends or neighbors do.
Doctors, healthcare facilities, and other providers will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare. You should still keep it and use it whenever you need care. However, you may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should keep this with you, too.
The new card is paper. Paper cards are easier for medical providers to use and they save taxpayers money. Starting in April 2018, people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings in their area on Medicare.gov. You may also call 800-633-4227 to inquire about the status of your card. Remember, however, Minnesota cards will start being sent beginning June 1, 2018.