Advertisement
Medicare

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.

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Under the new system, a randomly generated 11-character Medicare Beneficiary Identifier will replace the SSN-based health claim number on your new Medicare card. You'll get information in 2018 letting you know about the new Medicare card, with an explanation of how to use the new card and what to do with your old one. You can start using your new Medicare card with the new number as soon as you receive it, and there should be a transition period in 2018 and 2019 when you can use either the old card or the new card. Keep an eye on this information page from Medicare for updates.

Changing the health claim numbers for all Medicare beneficiaries is a big undertaking, and Medicare isn't issuing any new cards without an SSN yet. But there are ways you can protect yourself until the new cards are issued. Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, recommends that you carry your Medicare card only when you visit a health care provider for the first time, so the provider can make a copy for its file. Otherwise, he recommends making a copy of your card with the last four digits of your Social Security number blacked out and keeping that in your wallet in case of an emergency.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About
dividend stocks

11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About

Dividend-paying stocks often can be a store of safety, but 2020 has been difficult on income equities. These 11 picks look like shaky plays despite th…
September 21, 2020
How To Buy a Roth IRA When You Make Too Much To Qualify For One
Roth IRAs

How To Buy a Roth IRA When You Make Too Much To Qualify For One

With their tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals, Roth IRAs are a great deal — if you qualify. If you don’t, well, there’s still a way to get into …
September 23, 2020
High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place
Caregiving

High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place

Apple Watch and other technology provides fast feedback, comfort for older users, and a powerful assist for caregivers.
September 23, 2020

Recommended

Trump Promises $200 Prescription Drug Card for Seniors
Medicare

Trump Promises $200 Prescription Drug Card for Seniors

Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a debit card in the mail that they can use to pay for prescription drugs.
September 25, 2020
What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You
Tax Breaks

What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You

President Trump issued an executive order to suspend the collection of Social Security payroll taxes. How much could it save you?
September 17, 2020
Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know
Medicare

Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know

There's Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans and so on. We sort out the confusion about signing up for Medicare --…
September 16, 2020
When Elder Care Requires Legal Advice
Caregiving

When Elder Care Requires Legal Advice

Consult an elder care lawyer preemptively to avoid making a panicked phone call in the moment.
September 15, 2020