Sleepy Eye Medical Center wants senior citizens to know that Medicare will begin issuing new Medicare cards this spring. Though the change is designed to help prevent fraud, fight identity theft and protect private information, it has sparked a series of phone scams.
The new cards will have a new Medicare number format that is unique to each person, rather than using a Social Security number. This new number will be a randomly-assigned, 11-digit number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI will replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN), both on the cards and in various government and health care systems. Once seniors receive the new paper card, they should give the new card to their medical providers.
SEMC notes that enrollees do not have to do anything to receive their cards (as long as their address is correct), and there is no activation process or fee. Also, Medicare never initiates calls or asks to verify information over the phone. Anyone who receives a call asking for such information–an indication of a scam–should hang up.
People who are already on Medicare will receive their new card sometime between April 2018 and April 2019, which will be mailed to the address Social Security has on file.
Those on Medicare can make sure their address is up-to-date by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visiting https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.