As described in a previous NASW Practice Alert (Herman, 2017), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing new Medicare cards to beneficiaries. Whereas each Medicare card formerly included the beneficiary’s Social Security number, each new card will use a unique Medicare number, also known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI is randomly assigned and does not replace an individual’s Social Security number.
The removal of Social Security numbers from Medicare cards will protect the identity of beneficiaries. This Practice Alert provides an update on CMS’s New Medicare Card initiative and equips social workers to educate beneficiaries about the new cards.
Dissemination of New Medicare Cards
CMS began mailing the new Medicare cards to beneficiaries in April 2018 and will complete the mailings in April 2019. The cards are being mailed in phases to beneficiaries in specific geographic areas. However, beneficiaries living in the same geographic area may receive their cards at different times.
As of this writing, cards have been mailed to beneficiaries in the following states and jurisdictions.
- American Samoa
- District of Columbia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- West Virginia
As of this writing, cards are being mailed to beneficiaries in the following states.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
Cards will be mailed to the following states and jurisdictions in three phases (timing yet to be determined) in the months following July 2018.
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Beginning in April 2018, new enrollees in Medicare receive the new Medicare card at the time of enrollment. This practice applies to every new enrollee, regardless of place of residence.