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New Medicare cards coming

This sample of the new Medicare card shows a Medicare Claim Number rather than the person's Social Security number. Courtesy / Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administration

A change in Medicare cards is resulting in an opportunity for scam artists, according to Josh Askvig, AARP state director for North Dakota.

The new cards look similar to the old version but do not include the recipient's Social Security number. Removing the Social Security number is intended to reduce the risk of identity theft, Askvig said.

"Unfortunately, it's opened a new avenue for people to scam Medicare recipients," he said. Askvig said there have been reports of scammers asking Medicare recipients to pay for the new card with a credit card or asking them to confirm the Social Security number before a new card without the Social Security number can be sent. The information could be used to steal money or the person's identity.

Medicare recipients will receive a replacement Medicare card this summer, according to Dennis DelPizzo, external affairs specialist for the Denver office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"Your new card will have a new Medicare number that's unique to you instead of your Social Security number. This will help to protect your identity," he said. "Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same."

The process of distributing the cards will be done entirely by mail.

"If you get a call from Medicare or Social Security asking for information so they can send you a new card, hang up," DelPizzo said. "We're not doing that, and it is a scam."

DelPizzo said there is no cost for the new cards, and the Medicare administration will not contact people regarding the cards.

Medicare will mail the new card to the address on file with the Social Security Administration. People interested in monitoring when their card will arrive can sign up for updates at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

New enrollees to Medicare will receive the new card immediately. Current Medicare recipients will begin receiving the new cards in June, with the distribution continuing for about one year, DelPizzo said.

Askvig said few people are aware the new cards will be issued. That is one reason AARP is holding online seminars about the program at www.aarp.org.

"We're ramping up the efforts to make people aware of the new card and make people aware there are scammers trying to steal their identity," he said.

DelPizzo said the new card only replaces the old Medicare card. People with cards for supplemental insurance or Medicare Advantage programs should retain those cards but destroy their old Medicare card when they receive the new one. Patients and medical providers can use the Social Security number through December 2019.

Patients should provide their new Medicare number only to medical providers and keep the card with them when they visit a clinic or pharmacy.

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