The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that new Medicare cards would be delivered to all Medicare recipients between April 2018 and April 2019. A new identification card will be delivered to anyone who receives Medicare benefits. Many Medicare recipients have questions about this change. Let’s answer some of the most common questions regarding the new Medicare cards.

 Why do I need a new Medicare card?

If you already receive Medicare benefits, you are familiar with the red, white, and blue card that arrived as soon as you were eligible for Medicare. Even though you understand that you should keep your Medicare identification card on you in case of a visit to a doctor, medical provider, or hospital, some people have expressed concern. Until this year, Medicare cards have been printed with your Social Security number. Unfortunately, carrying your Social Security number on you at all times can lead to identity theft and fraud. In an effort to protect you, CMS is issuing new Medicare cards printed without your Social Security number. Instead, each card will have a unique identification number that will be used to reference your specific Medicare account.

Will my Medicare benefits change once I receive my new card?

Your Medicare coverage will not change with the arrival of your new card. You are simply getting a new identification card to carry with you so that you can present it to medical providers, doctors, or hospitals.

Do I need to request a new card?

New Medicare cards are being sent out automatically to everyone who receives Medicare benefits. You do not have to do anything as long as your address is current. If you need to update your address, visit your MySocialSecurity account.

When should I expect my new card?

You may get your new card anytime between April 2018 and April 2019. Do not worry if your spouse or neighbor receives their card before you get yours. Delivery dates may vary. You can continue to use your current Medicare card until the new one arrives.  Once the new card arrives, destroy the old one.

Will the new Medicare card look different?

The new Medicare card will look similar to your old one, but there are differences. The new card will still be red, white, and blue, but will show a unique identification number instead of your Social Security number. Your effective dates for Part A and/or Part B will still be printed on the front of the card.

How can I protect my new card?

The new Medicare card is made of paper to make it easier for medical providers to use and copy. Many Medicare recipients have wondered if they can do something to protect it from damage. Pulling your card in and out of your wallet can certainly take its toll.  The paper may start to shred and fade over time. Although it is not illegal to laminate your card, the Social Security administration advises against it. Laminating the card may prevent built-in security features of the card from being recognized. Instead, consider buying a plastic card holder to keep it intact.