New Medicare cards with a unique identifying number for each person are on the way to more than 908,000 Kentuckians, according to the federal government.
Kentucky is in the latest round of states to begin receiving the cards, which are intended to help fight fraud and protect recipients from identity theft, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The cards, which should arrive in Kentuckians’ mailboxes by the end of November, will no longer contain social security numbers. Instead, a randomly assigned number, called a “Medicare Beneficiary Identifier,” will be used on the cards, which are being issued free of charge.
“Removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is one of the many ways CMS is committed to putting patients first and improving the consumer healthcare experience,” CMS Regional Administrator Jeff Hinson said in a written statement. “This change not only protects Medicare patients from fraud but also safeguards taxpayer dollars by making it harder for criminals to use Social Security numbers to falsely bill Medicare for care services and benefits that were never performed.”
Ironically, however, some scammers are using the mailing of the new cards for other crooked activity.
Earlier this year, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office noted that some scammers have been posing as CMS employees in phone calls requesting personal and financial information or a payment to supposedly receive, replace or activate the senior’s new card.
“I want Kentucky senior citizens to know Medicare will never initiate a call and ask to verify information over the phone,” Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a news release. “If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a Medicare employee asking for information, money or threatening to cancel your health benefits, hang up and report the scam to the federal government at 1-800-MEDICARE.”
CMS began sending new cards to Medicare recipient in some states in April, but Kentucky’s mailing begins this week along with several other states and territories’, such as Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Puerto Rico.
Once the new card has arrived, CMS recommends destroying your old card by shredding it or cutting it up.
Tips for consumers:
- Don’t fall for scams. CMS won’t contact you for your Medicare number or other personal information so you can get a card.
- Hold on to your cash. If anyone calls or approaches you and says you need to pay for the card, that’s a scam.
- Guard your new card, just like you would your credit cards.
- Give your new Medicare number only to people you trust, such as your doctor or pharmacist.
- You don’t have to call CMS, because the agency will send the card to you.