Medicare has just announced that they have begun mailing new Medicare cards to Colorado residents. The new cards are designed to help protect your identity by using randomly generated numbers and letters, in place of your Social Security number.
The Colorado mailing will take about a month to complete, so your friend or neighbor may receive their card before you. But if you haven’t received your new card by the beginning of November, contact Social Security (they coordinate with Medicare) at 1-800-772-1213. If you have moved after enrolling in Medicare, make sure that Social Security has your current address.
While Medicare is instructing everyone to destroy their old card once the new card has arrived, my advice is—DON’T! Here’s why.
In speaking to a supervisor at the national Medicare hotline, I was informed that about one percent of the new cards are incorrect and not working properly when people try to use them at their doctor’s office. One percent may not sound like much, but with 58 million cards being mailed, that means that well over half a million people will experience problems with their new card when they go to seek medical care.
Rather than immediately destroying your old card per Medicare’s instructions, here is what I recommend you do instead:
- Put you new card in your wallet.
- Place your old card in a small, clear plastic baggie with a sticky note that it’s the old card and keep it in a safe place at home.
- The next time you see a medical provider, be sure to give them your new Medicare card. Now sit back and wait for Medicare’s explanation of benefits (EOB) to arrive. If everything gets processed correctly, you should be good. But if Medicare—or your doctor—informs you that there was a problem in processing your claim, your old card can serve as backup. That’s because your old card will continue to work until January 1, 2020 rolls around.
- Notify Medicare if you did experience problems and request a special replacement card.
After January 1, 2020 the old Medicare cards will no longer be accepted by the government and you are safe to destroy your old Medicare card. (Unless, you are sentimental about them…in which case you can frame them and keep as a memento!)