Kansas Medicare recipients are receiving new beneficiary cards in their mailboxes this month, a long-awaited update that takes their Social Security number off the card and replaces it with a randomly generated number.
And as those cards are being delivered, so are multiple scams that seniors need to be aware of, said Julie Brookhart, public affairs specialist for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Kansas City regional office.
“In most states, there have been some fraudulent scams going on where people are calling and saying you have to pay to get the new card, you have to give me your old card number, which contains the Social Security number, to get the new card,” she said, naming off just a few of the scams targeted at Medicare participants. “We’ve even had insurance agents calling and saying if you set up an appointment with me, I can get you the new card quicker.
Medicare cardholders should know that at no point will Medicare call uninvited, she added.
“Those are all scams,” Brookhart said. “They’re never going to call you and ask for personal information, and also the card is completely free. The bottom-line message is if anyone calls you about the new Medicare card, it is a fraudulent call.”
Kansas is one of 11 states where cards are being mailed out now. CMS has been working to make sure Medicare recipients understand what to expect with the card and also that they’re on the look-out so they can begin taking the card to doctor’s appointments, Brookhart said.
“Medicare beneficiaries have been asking for the cards to not have their Social Security numbers on them for quite some time,” she said. “There’s really no negativity bout the change, but there might be some confusion as to what this card replaces.”
The card replaces the beneficiary’s original Medicare card, but it does not replace their Medicare Advantage Plan card, their prescription card, a Medicaid card or their Social Security card, she said.
Susan Harris, executive director at the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, said she expects the cards to cause some confusion.
“We anticipate that we probably will have some confused folks,” she said. “Hopefully, folks won’t just discard them, thinking this is another piece of junk mail that comes. We’ve been trying really hard with Medicare, telling people you’re going to get a new card.”
Brookhart emphasized that not everyone in the state will receive their cards at the same time, and it will take the entire month to get them mailed.
“Be patient, and give it a good month before you start wondering where your card might be,” she said. “If you don’t get your card, I would say, by about the first or second week of August, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE,” she said.
Individuals also can go to mymedicare.gov online, Medicare recipients can create a personal account where they can even print a copy of their card should at any point they lose it or it becomes worn, Brookhart said. The site also provides individual messages from Medicare and beneficiaries can track their Medicare information and provider payments.
Brookhart said beneficiaries should blacken out their Social Security number on their old card and then shred it once they receive the new card. Then they should take the new card to their doctors, pharmacists and other medical providers to make sure the new card is put into their systems so Medicare billing is done correctly. A transition period through December 2019 is in place so that both cards will work as everyone adapts to the new system.