Medicare has redesigned its membership cards in an attempt to protect people’s identity from theft and prevent fraud. Here is what to know about your Medicare card. Private information, like your Social Security Number (SSN), will no longer be displayed. Your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will be a randomly-assigned, 11-digit number that will replace your Social Security number. You need to remember this number for when you require treatment from a healthcare provider – although don’t worry too much, as your provider should be able to use a medicare beneficiary identifier MBI lookup tool to find your number via your personal details.
The mailing will start in April. The cards will be mailed by state over the next year. It is all automatic, you do not need to do anything. When you receive the new Medicare card, destroy your old one – be sure to destroy it so that no one else could use it.
Medicare Advantage cards not being replaced
Note that these are new Medicare cards, not Medicare Advantage cards. If you are a Medicare Advantage member, that membership card will not change. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) advises you to keep the new card with your Advantage card in case a provider might request it. Your Medicare benefits will not change at all with the new cards. The same goes for Medicare Part D stand-alone plan cards. Keep that card alongside the new Medicare card that proves your eligibility for Medicare Parts A and B.
New card features
The new Medicare cards have another feature – not just designed to protect privacy or scams but to prevent mistakes. The new cards are alphanumeric, with both letters and numbers. The letters S, L, O, I, B or Z will not be used as they can easily be mistaken for numbers.
In addition to the disappearance of your SSN, there will be no indication of gender and no signature line. The cards will be made of paper and will be the size of a credit card.
Another detail: Have you wondered what the letter at the end of your number means? Each number is assigned depending on the status of the card holder. For instance, A, which is the most common, means that the card carrier is the primary wage earner. B1 means aged husband, age 62 or older. E means widowed mother. And so forth.
So, watch your mailbox for your new card. Keep it in a safe place. Give the new number only to qualified providers. Protect your privacy.