HELENA, Mont. – Montana residents who qualify for Medicare should expect a new Medicare card to be delivered by the end of October 2018.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined Jeff Hinson of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to announce the mailing of the new cards at the Rocky Mountain Development Council Helena Senior Center on Monday.
In order to help prevent fraud, the new cards no longer have Social Security numbers on them, which have been replaced by a randomized number.
“This is really important,” said Fox. “One of the things we see every day is thieves stealing people’s identity and one of the things people really want to get ahold of is a Social Security number.”
Fox said criminals will often target those who are the most vulnerable such as senior citizens or people with disabilities.
“It’s important that people understand that they need to be vigilant in protecting their personal and private information such as social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts and passwords,” added Fox.
According to CMS, more than 200,000 Montanans benefit from Medicare.
Jeff Hinson, CMS Regional VIII Administrator, is excited to get the new cards out to Montanans, but warns that people need to keep their new Medicare number confidential as well.
“People need to guard their card and not share it with anybody,” said Hinson, “No one from CMS will call you asking for that number. If somebody calls asking to help you with that number, hang up on them right away.”
Congress mandated the change in 2015 with large bipartisan support before it was signed into law by President Obama.
According to CMS data, over 57.7 million Americans have a Medicare card and the federal health insurance programs adds around 11,000 people a day.
Hinson said the new changes to the cards have been very positively received so far by most beneficiaries and medical providers.
“I’ve worked in Medicare a long time and this has been one of those issues that comes up almost every day, ‘Why is my Social Security number on the card?’” said Hinson. “People are thrilled with that being removed.”
Hinson added once people receive their new card, they should immediately destroy their old one to help protect their identity.
For more information on the new Medicare cards, visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare/new-medicare-card/nmc-home.html or call 1-800-633-4227.
For identity theft prevention tips, visit the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection webpage or call 1-(800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500 during normal business hours.
Story by John Riley, MTN News