If you’re on Medicare, you are going to get a new Medicare card and a new Medicare number. The new card will not include your Social Security number, birthdate or gender. The reason for the change is to better protect your personal identity from being stolen. It will also keep criminals from using your Medicare number to commit health care fraud.

New Medicare number

Your Social Security number on your Medicare card is being replaced with a new number that is unique to you. The new number is 11 characters long and will have numbers and capital letters.

The new card is a little smaller than the old card and shaped like a credit card. It will have the familiar red and blue with black printing on a thicker white card. Look in your 2018 Medicare and You Handbook for a picture of the new card.

The new Medicare number and new card are the only changes from Medicare. Your Medicare benefits, doctors, billing and notification about services will remain the same. The new number will be used to bill Medicare for the health care, and medical or hospital services you receive.

New card will be mailed

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will start mailing new cards on April 1. CMS expects to have them mailed to the 58 million Americans on Medicare by April, 2019. The mailings will be staggered by location so don’t expect to get your card on the same day as a friend or neighbor.

Be sure CMS has your current address. To report address changes, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) which manages Medicare through the CMS. Log on to ssa.gov/myaccount, or call CMS toll-free at 1-800-772-1213; TTY users call 1-800-325-0778.

Safety tips protect you

The cards are being changed because medical identity fraud is a growing problem. In 2017, criminals used Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare card numbers to bill for $1.3 billion worth of fraudulent services. This theft hurts the people on Medicare and American taxpayers. In addition to the false claims and loss of money, medical identity theft can cause errors in medical records that can result in delayed care or denied claims.

You do not have to do anything to get your new card. It will arrive in the mail during the next 12 months. When you get it, follow these safety tips:

  • Destroy your old card after the new card arrives.
  • Start using the new card right away. Take it to the pharmacy, doctor’s office and wherever you get health care services. They will be expecting it.
  • Protect your Medicare number as if it was a credit card number.
  • Be very cautious if someone contacts you and asks about your new Medicare card, wants the new number or any personal information about you, or demands payment for the new card. There is no charge to get the new card.
  • The only people who need your Medicare card or have access to your Medicare number are your health care providers, your insurance company acting on your behalf, or a trusted community person working with Medicare such as the State Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). Medicare will never contact you, unless you ask them to, or ask for your Medicare number or other personal information. Anyone else is probably trying to steal your identity so they can steal from Medicare. Remember, thieves cannot bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number.
  • Just say “No!” to anyone offering Medicare discounts, free medical services, discount packages, free gifts, limited-time offers or anything that sounds too good to be true. Never let anyone borrow or offer to pay to use your Medicare card or number.
  • Check all your statements or explanation of benefits to be sure all charges are accurate.
  • If you suspect fraud, help stop thieves by reporting it to Medicare. Call toll-free 1-800-633-4227 or go online at Medicare.gov/fraud.