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What You Need to Know About the New Medicare Cards

Background – New Medicare Cards Are Coming Soon

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has long advocated for the removal of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from Medicare cards. Thankfully, legislation calling for this change was enacted in 2015 and is now scheduled to be implemented starting this spring.

The current Medicare card is susceptible to identity theft because it displays the SSN which is linked to so many other accounts such as credit cards and banking institutions. In the wrong hands, a stolen SSN can cause unsuspecting victims countless hours of effort to undo the damage caused by identity theft. Additionally, a stolen SSN can be used to file fraudulent Medicare benefit claims, further complicating a beneficiary's records. 

How Does the Change Affect Medicare Beneficiaries?

Beginning in April 2018, people with Medicare will begin to receive new Medicare cards in the mail. Not all beneficiaries will receive their cards at the same time. The cards will be mailed on a flow basis by geographic location and other factors. The new cards are paper, making it easier for medical providers to use and copy. Printing the cards on paper also will save taxpayer dollars.

When beneficiaries receive their new card, they should destroy the old card and begin using the new card right away with their doctors, pharmacists, and others who work with Medicare. Doctors and other health care providers know the new cards are coming and will ask patients for their new card when they visit, so patients should make sure they take their new card to any appointments. In fact, beneficiaries should carry their new card with them always.

The new card will have a unique number, different from the SSN. It will be 11 characters in length, composed of numbers and upper-case letters. This helps to protect beneficiaries from identity theft. There is no change to Medicare coverage or benefits.

What Will Medical Professionals Do About the Change?

Health care providers know that the new cards are coming and are updating their computer systems to accommodate the change. They will run parallel systems until the transition to new cards is fully implemented in December 2019. As of January 1, 2020, they will accept only the new Medicare card.

What About Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries?

Participants in private Medicare Advantage plans will continue to use their Medicare Advantage Plan ID card. However, they may be asked for their new Medicare card as well, so should carry the new card with them too.

When Will the New Cards Be Mailed to Beneficiaries?

New Medicare cards will be mailed in waves to all people with Medicare on a flow basis by geographic location and other factors. These mailings will follow the sequence outlined below:





Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

April - June 2018


Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon

April – June 2018


Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin

After June 2018


Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

After June 2018


Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina

After June 2018


Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

After June 2018


Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands

After June 2018

Starting in April 2018, people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings in their area on


The National Committee is pleased these new Medicare cards will be released soon, leading to a safer, more reliable Medicare experience. We hope the transition will be smooth and seamless for beneficiaries and their medical providers.

Government Relations and Policy, February 2018


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