Your Medicare card is like a birthday card you receive from the government when you turn 65. And while it may not be as sentimental as a birthday card, your Medicare card is in many ways significantly more important. It is your ticket for getting the care and services you need, for enrolling in supplemental Medicare insurance, and maximizing your benefits through the program. In fact, Medicare cards are so valuable that scammers and fraudsters frequently prey on vulnerable seniors to get their hands on the information contained on those cards.
Here are three key things to know about your Medicare card:
What’s On The Card?
Your card will contain your personal and unique Medicare Number that is not the same as your Social Security number. Additionally, the card will show:
• You are enrolled in Medicare Part A (listed as HOSPITAL), Part B (listed as MEDICAL), or both.
• The date your coverage begins.
Once you’re signed up for Medicare, you will receive your Medicare card and welcome packet in the mail. You can also create or log into your secure Medicare account to print your official Medicare card at home.
When You’ll Need Your Medicare Card
You’ll need the information contained on your Medicare card to enroll in a Medicare health or drug plan or purchase Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), so you’ll want to keep it handy (but safe). You’ll want to carry it with you when you’re away from home and will need to show your card to your physician, hospital, or other health care provider to get services. If you have a Medicare drug plan or supplemental coverage, carry that plan card with you too.
If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan, you’ll use your plan’s card to get services instead of your Medicare card.
Keep Your Card Save and Private
As noted, the information on your Medicare card is frequently the target of scam artists. Scammers can easily and convincingly lie and confuse seniors about what they need to do to keep their coverage or make other misrepresentations. They are all designed to get Medicare enrollees to give up personal and financial information.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued several tips for Medicare enrollees that can reduce your chances of falling victim to Medicare fraud. These include:
• No one from Medicare will ever contact you and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or other financial or personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
• You may get calls from scam artists promising you free services or medical equipment if you give them your Medicare Number or other information. Don’t provide them with anything.
• Medicare will never come to your home.
• No one from Medicare will ever call you and try to sell you anything.
• Medicare cannot and will not enroll you in the program over the phone unless you called first.
If you believe that you were approached by a scammer or fell victim to a Medicare scam, report it to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477).