As the need to ward off scams and identity theft ever increases, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare Cards by April 2019. The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a medicare beneficiary identifier (MBI).

New cards will begin to be mailed this month. However, Kansans are in the third wave of mailings and can expect theirs after June 2018.

Here’s How to Get Ready:

Make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.

Beware of anyone who contacts you about your new Medicare card. Medicare will never ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.

Some things to know about your new card:

— Your new card will automatically come to you. You don’t need to do anything as long as your address is up to date.

— Your new card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This will help to protect your identity.

— Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.

— Mailing takes time. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.

— Your new card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.

 — Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your MedicareAdvantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card too. Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know it’s coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.

— Only give your new medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.

— If you forget your new card, you, your doctor or other health care provider may be able to look up your number online. Providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. There will also be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN further easing the transition.

Contact the McPherson County Extension Office at 620-241- 1523 or email jmckinne@ksu.edu