Individuals who receive Medicare are likely accustomed to paper cards, which can cause issues with information security. However, change is coming. Medicare recipients in West Virginia will be among the first individuals to receive the new cards. Here is what to expect:
Safety is paramount with the new cards. The former paper cards featured your Social Security Number. This could be troublesome for many because it left important personal information exposed. The new cards no longer feature an individual’s Social Security Number. Each new card will feature a new, unique Medicare Number. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards by 2019.
The new cards will not be released at the same time to all Americans. Instead, they will be released in waves. West Virginia will be a part of the first wave released, which started in April of 2018. Other states included in wave one are Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The new cards will be automatically sent via the United States Postal Service. Recipients won’t need to do anything to receive the new card. However, the CMS states that you should make sure your address is up to date. The CMS also states your benefits will not change with the new card. They also point out that the mailing will take time, and that your friends and neighbors may receive their cards before you do. The mail can be unpredictable, and the high volume of new cards being shipped can take a while to process.
You may wonder why the cards will remain paper. The simple reason is that, while a plastic card may be more durable, paper cards are easier for medical providers to make copies of. If you forget your card though, the provider may be able to look up your information by way of the new number.
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare—you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you may also be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card, too.
When you receive your new card, you should properly dispose of your old card. To see an example of the new card, click here.
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