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Medicare beneficiaries urged to destroy outdated cards

By Staff | Dec 24, 2019

In 2018 and 2019, the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided new Medicare cards to more than 61 million seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries. Millions of Medicare patients are using their new cards in doctor’s offices. However, many others may still have their old cards in their possession. SHINE/SMP (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders/Senior Medicare Patrol) and the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida urge Medicare beneficiaries to destroy their old Medicare cards, which will be invalid after Dec. 31.

The new red, white and blue Medicare cards include a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) instead of a social security number. The MBI is a more secure identification number using a combination of letters and numbers to help protect against personal identity theft and fraud.

Starting in 2020, health care providers will only be able to use the MBI when processing Medicare beneficiary claims. Providers such as hospitals, doctors and labs will not be able to submit Medicare claims using a patient’s social security number.

Even with the improvements to the new Medicare cards, it is important for beneficiaries to take precautions with their identification. Those with Medicare should guard their Medicare cards like a credit card and be wary of unsolicited requests for their Medicare number and personal information.

“Guarding your card and personal information is just as important now, even with the new cards. Scammers are still out there,” SHINE Manager Camilita Aldridge said. “You should only give your Medicare number to your pharmacists, health care providers, and folks you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.”

If you have not received your new Medicare card, there are multiple ways to get your card and MBI. Beneficiaries can call 800-MEDICARE for assistance with their MBI, and then create a MyMedicare.gov account online to print an official copy of their card. Accounts on MyMedicare.gov are password-protected and secure.

Those seeking hands-on assistance are encouraged to contact a SHINE counselor at the Area Agency on Aging. SHINE is a program of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and is operated locally through the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. Specially-trained SHINE counselors help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to understand their health care options so they can make the best decisions for their individual needs.

The SHINE program’s mission is to provide free and unbiased information about Medicare for beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers. SHINE counselors can educate beneficiaries about the pathways to Medicare, and services such as preventive services and financial assistance for qualifying individuals. Counselors also assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries in applying for cost saving programs. As part of the national Senior Medicare Patrol program, SHINE counselors also educate beneficiaries to protect, detect, and report potential errors, fraud, and abuse with their Medicare coverage.

SHINE counseling is available by appointment year-round in Southwest Florida. To receive help, individuals may call to schedule an appointment by calling the Area Agency on Aging’s Southwest Florida Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER). For a listing of SHINE counseling sites and enrollment events, visit www.floridashine.org.

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit organization serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties. AAASWFL is the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida. The organization is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. More information is available at www.aaaswfl.org or by calling the toll-free Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER).