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New Medicare cards hitting mailboxes for Hoosiers soon

 Image courtesy of Medicare.org

Image courtesy of Medicare.org

In an effort to minimize identity theft for the more than 60 million people enrolled in Medicare, redesigned Medicare cards started going out in the mail in April. Some of the new security features include a new 11-character identity number in place of the holder’s Social Security number and cards no longer display the person’s gender or their signature. The card is also smaller making it easier to slide into a person’s wallet.

Countless programs and campaigns have touted the message to protect personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers from getting to the hands of identity thieves. So when Medicare announced the change to its cards, advocates for identity protection applauded the upgrade in security.

Not to be outdone, scammers have already launched new ways to target the Medicare population. The Federal Trade Commission reports one typical scam where identity thieves contact Medicare beneficiaries by phone asking for Social Security numbers and other personal information in order to receive the new card.

The National Council on Aging has spotted the problem and tried to ramp up awareness messages to the particularly vulnerable demographic. Senior citizens become a prime target since they are perceived to have more money, but as more and more seniors are living on a fixed income, the impact of a scam has deep financial ramifications.

For you or someone you love, here are most important things you need to remember about the new Medicare cards:

1)      There’s nothing you need to do to get your new card – There is no application needed in order to get your card and no one from Medicare will call to ask for or verify your personal information. However, you can contact Social Security, which administers the Medicare program, to verify that your correct address is on record. Call 800-772-1213 to verify this with Social Security.

2)      Indiana cards start going out after June 2018 – There is a transition period underway for the new cards. Nationwide, cards started going out in April to those newly eligible, but according to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Indiana isn’t due to see its cards until after June.

3)      Your existing card is valid through 2019 – As the nation transitions to the new card design, your existing card can still be used until December 31, 2019. Once the calendar rolls over to 2020, it is recommended you destroy your old card. DO NOT simply toss it in the trash.

4)      Other cards relating to Medicare benefits should be kept – Cards pertaining to your private insurance plans, such as Medicare Advantage, should be kept. These cards will not change and you should be prepared to show either card when needed. The same holds true for your Medicare Part D card or any other prescription drug plan card.

There is help if you or someone you know has been scammed. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft of Medicare fraud, there’s a federally funded program to help Medicare beneficiaries, their family and caregivers. Hoosiers should contact 317-205-9201 or 800-986-3595 at the Indiana office of Senior Medicare Patrol. You can also contact the Medicare fraud tip line at 800-447-8477.

 

April Grunden