Why You Shouldn't Keep Your Medicare Card in Your Wallet

The cards still display Social Security numbers, and that won't change for a couple more years. Here's a workaround.

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Question: My Medicare card still has my Social Security number on it. I know it's a bad idea to keep anything that displays my Social Security number in my wallet. Wasn't the government supposed to stop putting Social Security numbers on Medicare cards?

Answer: ID thieves can do a lot of damage if they get your Social Security number, which is why we recommend that you don't carry your Social Security card or number in your wallet. But Medicare beneficiaries are in a tough spot because SSN-based health claim numbers still appear on their Medicare cards. President Obama signed a law in April 2015 requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove SSNs from Medicare cards, but the change is being implemented gradually: CMS will start sending the new cards in April 2018, but it will take until April 2019 before SSNs are removed from all cards.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.