2018 will mark one of the biggest events in Medicare since the Modernization of Medicare supplements in 2010 — and no one is talking about it to the consumer yet!

What’s happening?
Everyone on Medicare will get a new Medicare number and card as of April 2018.
Yep, an entirely new, random Medicare claim number.
This is big and we will have the details in this article.

I am writing this in May of 2017. Two years ago, in April of 2015, Congress passed and the President signed a new law referred to as the Medicare Doc Fix. The focus of the law was to fix an 18-year old problem related to how much doctors were paid for Medicare services.

Well, that issue was finally resolved in 2015 and an equally important, but less newsworthy problem was also addressed with the same law.

The problem? Your Medicare card is one of the greatest sources of ID theft in the country. If you haven’t yet noticed, your Medicare number is either your, or your spouse’s Social Security number with a letter on the end. That’s it.

If you worked your 40-quarters and earned your own social security income it will likely be your social security number. If you are using your spouse’s social security, your Medicare number will be their social security number with a different letter on the end. I wonder if the government thought they were disguising the social security number by putting a letter on the end? Kind of like no one figuring out who the Lone ranger was because fo that tiny mask.

Believe it or not, The Social Security Administration started the process of advising that Medicare to stop using Social Security numbers on Medicare cards back in 2006!  It will be 12-years in the making when their advice comes to fruition. Nothing moves quickly in government.

New medicare numberI am surprised how often people don’t even notice their Medicare card has their social security number on it. They usually find out when we’re completing a Medicare supplement application and I ask for the Medicare number. They ask “What’s that?” I’ll reply it’s on your card.  After a moment or two they start reading off the number and pause…”That’s my social security number!”

We have a temporary fix for that, but in the meantime, here is what is going to happen:

Right now, everyone who already has a Medicare card prior to April of 2018 will receive a new card in April of 2018.

That new Medicare ID number will be a random number. It will not be related in any way to your social security number or any other number that can be used to identify you. It will probably also have a letter as those letter are used to tell Medicare some of the information they need to know about you.

Now, you and your insurance company and doctor and everyone else that interacts with your Medicare will have from April through December 2018 to make sure they have your new Medicare number. After December 2018 your old Medicare number (your current Medicare number) will no longer be valid. Obviously, you should then destroy that Medicare card with your old Medicare number.

So, most importantly ….

Mark your 2018 calendar to be on the lookout for mail from Medicare in April 2018. I wonder how many people will miss that letter.  the letter with their new Medicare card and medicare number?

Second; if you are carrying your Medicare Card on your person now, please reconsider. I advise, and the report from Social Security advises that you keep your Medicare card in a safe place, not on your person. Only use your Medicare card when you are seeing a new doctor.

If you have a Medicare supplement, just keep that Medicare supplement card with you. You can’t have a Medicare supplement without Original Medicare, so if anything happens to you, like an accident, Emergency and Hospital staff will know you have Medicare because you have a supplement.

You can also photocopy your Medicare card and on the photocopy black out all but the last four digits and the letter. You usually have to then copy the photocopy one time so there is no bleed through, then keep that with your Medicare supplement card. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, just keep that card.  But do not ever discard your Medicare card. Just keep it in a safe place in your home.

Third; please pass this video around. Help your friends, neighbors, and strangers know this change is coming.

You know, I work in Medicare insurance. My wife works in Medicare billing as a Medicare billing analyst. Medicare has made sure the hospitals knew this change is coming. They even told them last year that there would only by a 24-hour transition period from the old number to the new number. That didn’t go over well, so now the department of Health & Human Services is working more closely with the private sector and a nine month transition period is in the works.

No one is talking about a program forewarning you, the consumer.

In fact, I didn’t learn about this from the insurance industry. I learned from Medicare seminar conferences on billing my better half attends.

Please get the word out. Share these video on social media.

If you will be new to Medicare soon, chances are you have a lot of questions about Medicare, its benefits and what it will cost you.

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