SALEM, Ore. — Medicare users in Oregon will be getting brand new cards by the end of June, according to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (ODCBS). The new cards will feature a unique Medicare number, instead of Social Security numbers.
Government officials hope that the new cards will help to prevent Medicare fraud and identity theft. Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same, and the cards will be mailed at no cost to the user's address on file with Social Security.
The Oregon Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) praised the new cards on Tuesday, calling it an effective way to keep vital Social Security Numbers out of the hands of criminals. The FBI echoed many of the same tips as the ODCBS (some of which may be seen below).
According to the FBI, the new cards will be paper instead of plastic, and the new "Health Insurance Claim Number" will be an 11-character code unique to the individual. They will also include randomly generated numbers and uppercase letters.
ODCBS has the following tips for Medicare recipients:
- Make sure Social Security has your current address. You can update your address online by signing in to or creating a “my Social Security” account at ssa.gov.
- Don’t worry if you get your new card before or after friends or family members here in Oregon or in other states. The cards are being sent on a variety of dates to prevent mail theft.
- When your new Medicare card arrives, destroy the old one. Do it in a secure manner, such as shredding it.
- Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards. They should be ready to accept your new card when you need care.
- Even people with a Medicare plan through a private insurance company, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, will get a new Medicare card from the federal government. Keep it in a safe place, but continue to use the member card your insurance company sent you.
- Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Protect your Medicare number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers. Remember, Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.
More information can be found at go.medicare.gov/newcard. Oregonians also can contact the state’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program with questions. SHIBA’s phone number is 1-800-722-4134 (toll-free), and the line is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.