9 Things to Know About Your New Medicare Card

If you use social media to keep up with friends and family, you’ve probably seen those Age Tests—photos of once-everyday items which folks over 45 recognize, but tend to be genuine head-scratchers for younger people.

Take for example:

Turntable adapter insert

How to Make Tv Antennas Work Better with Aluminum Foil

Old High Beam Footswitch in Cars

If we learn anything as we grow older, it’s that the world never stops changing around us. And by April 2019, the familiar red, white, and blue Medicare card that current and new beneficiaries carry in our wallets will join the ranks of things that are changing—for the better.

That’s right: eligible Americans are getting new Medicare cards in 2018 (and early 2019). Out with the old, in with the new—and improved. So, what does that mean for you, and what do you need to know about the new Medicare card?

New Medicare Card Replacements: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are Medicare Cards Changing?

The last generation of Medicare cards used Social Security Numbers (SSNs) as a Medicare Claim Number. This was an insecure form of identification. Over the past few decades, SSNs have slowly become used for many forms of ID, including credit. These new Medicare cards establish a unique Medicare Benefit Identification (MBI) number, completely different than the beneficiary’s SSN. It’s more secure and safer. The new Medicare cards are also paper, rather than plastic, which makes the cards easier for providers to copy and use.

2. What Does the New Medicare Card Look Like?

The new card was completely redesigned to make it unmistakably different from the older card.

Old Medicare Card

New Medicare Card

3. Do I Need to Request a Medicare Card Replacement?

No. It will be mailed to you automatically.

4. How Can I Make Sure My New Medicare Card Goes to the Right Address?

The Social Security Administration handles address changes and updates pertaining to new Medicare cards as well as Social Security. If you want to make sure your address is current, you can do so on the Social Security website.

5. When Will I Receive My New Medicare Card?

The new Medicare card mailing schedule will take all year to complete. Cards are being mailed in waves, several states at a time, by region. Mailings began in May, 2018 and will continue all year long. This web page includes a regularly updated map and list that shows:

  • Which states are currently mailing new cards
  • Which states are mailing new cards soon
  • Which states have finished mailing new cards

6. Can I Get a More Specific Time Frame?

If you know someone in a different state that has already received their card, you can sign up to receive a personalized email notification to get a more specific delivery time frame. The email will be delivered to your email inbox when your new Medicare card is mailed, so you’ll be notified instantly on your computer, your tablet, or even your smartphone. If it doesn’t arrive within a couple of weeks after that, you’ll know to get in touch and request a Medicare card replacement.

7. What Should I Do with My Old Medicare Card?

Once you have verified that all of the information on your new Medicare card is correct, including the spelling of your name and your coverage eligibility, destroy your old Medicare card by shredding it or cutting it into pieces.

Do not keep it around just in case (like old ice cube trays), no matter how tempting that may be. If you ever need to get or order a new Medicare card, you can always request one from the Social Security Administration.

8. Can I Laminate My New Medicare Card?

While the paper card may feel less substantial than the old plastic Medicare card, the Social Security Administration advises against lamination, as it may destroy security features. If you would like additional protection for your new card, the agency suggests a simple clear plastic card holder sleeve, or alternatively, carrying a photocopy of your card rather than the card itself. (All smartphones, including the Jitterbug Smart, run apps that can store secure, password- or biometrically-protected images of cards for this purpose.)

9. What If I Have a Medicare Advantage Plan (HMO, PPO, or PFFS)?

In that case, you will not use the new Medicare card when you go to a hospital or doctor. Store your new card in a secure place and continue using your Medicare Advantage plan card as you always have. If you ever discontinue your Medicare Advantage plan, you will need your new Medicare card when you go to a healthcare provider.

And just in case any of those shareables at the beginning stumped you, here are the answers:

  1. Turntable adapter insert for 45 RPM vinyl records
  2. Before scrambled cable signals and set-top descrambler boxes, aluminum foil could be wrapped around television cable to tune in premium channels like HBO (yes, really!)
  3. High beam headlight controls once lived on the floor of the vehicle, not turn signal stems
  4. It’s a metal ice cube tray with a removable cube divider insert

Sources: me.me, nourishingobscurity.com, knowyourmeme.com

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