In April, the federal government will begin sending out new Medicare playing cards, launching a large, yearlong effort to change how 59 million individuals enrolled within the federal medical insurance program are recognized.
Traditionally, Medicare ID playing cards have been stamped with the Social Safety numbers of members — presently, about 50 million seniors and 9 million individuals with critical disabilities. However that’s been problematic: If a pockets or purse had been stolen, a thief might use that info, together with an handle or birthdate on a driver’s license, to steal somebody’s id.
For years, telephone scammers have preyed on older adults by requesting their Medicare numbers, giving varied causes for doing so. Individuals who fall for these ruses have discovered financial institution accounts emptied, Social Safety funds diverted or payments of their mailboxes for medical providers or tools by no means acquired.
The brand new playing cards handle these issues by eradicating every member’s Social Safety quantity and changing it with a brand new, randomly generated 11-digit “Medicare quantity” (some capital letters are included). This shall be used to confirm eligibility for providers and for billing functions going ahead.
Such a significant change can contain bumps alongside the best way, so there shall be a transition interval throughout which you need to use both your new Medicare card or your outdated card at medical doctors’ places of work and hospitals. Each ought to work till Dec. 31, 2019.
If you happen to neglect your new card at residence, your physician’s workers ought to have the ability to search for your new Medicare quantity up at a safe pc web site. Or, they will use info that’s already on file through the transition interval.
“We’ve had a couple of individuals contact us and ask ‘If I don’t have the brand new card at a physician’s appointment, does that imply my supplier gained’t see me?’” mentioned Casey Schwartz, senior counsel for training and federal coverage on the Medicare Rights Heart. “That shouldn’t be a problem.”
Playing cards shall be despatched to individuals coated by Medicare on a rolling foundation over a 12-month interval ending in April 2019. Older adults in Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia would be the first to obtain the mailings, between April and June, together with a number of U.S. territories — American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The final wave of states shall be Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, together with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“In case your sister who lives in one other state will get her card earlier than you, don’t fret,” the Federal Commerce Fee defined in a new alert. For the reason that playing cards are going out in waves, “your card could arrive at a special time than hers.”
If you happen to assume Social Safety won’t have your present handle, name 1-800-772-1213 or examine your on-line Social Safety account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/, the FTC suggested.
While you get your new Medicare card, don’t throw your outdated one within the trash. As a substitute, put it by means of a shredder or “spend time chopping it up with a pair of scissors” to verify the half exhibiting your Social Safety quantity is destroyed, mentioned Amy Nofziger, a fraud professional for AARP.
These numbers stay sought-after by scammers, and AARP and Senior Medicare Patrol teams inform of receiving fraud studies associated to Medicare playing cards since final 12 months.
In a single rip-off, reported by California’s Space 1 Company on Getting old, a caller purporting to signify Medicare or one other authorities company claims to wish your checking account info so Medicare can organize a direct deposit of funds into your account. The brand new Medicare playing cards are used as an excuse for the decision.
In one other, circulating in Iowa, scammers are threatening to cancel seniors’ medical insurance in the event that they don’t give out their present Medicare card numbers. “We’re telling individuals, don’t ever give somebody this quantity — simply dangle up,” mentioned Nancy Ketcham, elder rights specialist on the Elderbridge Company on Getting old, which serves 29 counties in northwestern Iowa.
A month in the past, Alfonso Hernandez, 65, who lives in Moreno Valley, Calif., acquired a name from a person who instructed him, in Spanish, that Medicare was going to concern new playing cards and that he wanted to confirm some info, together with Hernandez’s title, handle and Social Safety quantity.
“I mentioned no, usually, I don’t give my Social Safety quantity to anybody,” Hernandez mentioned. At that time, the caller put his “supervisor” on the telephone, who mentioned the federal government wanted to verify it had right info. Caught off guard, Hernandez recited his Social Safety quantity and, “as quickly as I did that, they hung up.”
“Instantly, I’m like ‘oh my God, what did I do,’” mentioned Hernandez, who rapidly contacted credit score businesses to have them put an alert on his account. “I simply preserve praying that nothing occurs.”
Simply final week, California’s Senior Medicare Patrol program acquired a report of one other rip-off detected in Riverside County: a caller claiming that earlier than a senior can get a brand new Medicare card, she or he has to pay $5 to $50 for a brand new “non permanent” card, in keeping with Sandy Morales, a case supervisor with this system.
Nofziger of AARP mentioned a Medicare consultant won’t ever contact an older grownup by telephone or electronic mail in regards to the new playing cards and will definitely “by no means ask for cash or private info or threaten to cancel your well being advantages.” The brand new Medicare playing cards are free and also you don’t have to do something to obtain one: They’re being despatched routinely to everybody enrolled in this system. Don’t give out any info to callers who contact you by telephone, she suggested.
If you happen to suspect fraud, report it to the FTC , AARP’s fraud assist line, 1-877-908-3360, or your native Senior Medicare Patrol program.
If you happen to’re amongst practically 18 million seniors and other people with critical disabilities who’ve protection by means of a Medicare Benefit plan, preserve the cardboard that your plan issued you. Medicare Benefit plans are provided by non-public insurance coverage corporations, which have their very own manner of figuring out members. Equally, if in case you have prescription drug protection by means of Medicare — one other profit provided by means of non-public insurance coverage corporations – preserve your card for that plan as effectively.