New Medicare Cards with New Identification Numbers on the Way

Everyone who is enrolled in Medicare will be receiving a new card with a new claim or identification number (that is NOT a Social Security number) sometime between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. Those going on Medicare for the first time effective April 1, 2018, will be the first to receive the new type of card. Social Security manages the enrollment for Medicare A and B so the cards will be mailed from Social Security.

Is This a Big Deal?

YES!! This means that over 55 million Americans will be getting new cards and claim numbers and that results in a staggering volume of claims needing to be processed with new numbers by every Medicare-participating provider in the United States.


For many years there has been concern that Medicare claim numbers are someone’s Social Security number (worker or spouse) displayed so visibly on the Medicare card which is a concern in terms of Medicare fraud and identity theft. However, the cost of redoing the system and the disruption it will cause led this project to be perennially pushed off. However, the time for change has arrived.

Things to Know

  • Be on the look-out for your card but know that the plan is to mail them over the course of a year. The card will be inside a plain envelope. This is intentional. The government does not want to send you a big envelope that announces “Medicare Card Enclosed.” This anonymous mailing is deliberate and intended to make it more difficult for card thieves to spot a new card. Unfortunately, the bland envelope approach also makes it harder for you to identify the mailing as from Social Security with your new card.
  • The cards will be mailed out from Social Security to the address Social Security has on record for you. If you need to update your address with Social Security, you should do so.
  • You should start using the new card right away and give it to all Medicare providers – doctors, hospitals, laboratory, etc., who process Medicare Part A and Part B claims. You should not continue using the old card.
  • Provide your supplemental carrier with the new claim number.
  • Tens of millions of people receiving new cards with new claim numbers will be disruptive so once you have your new card, monitor claims going forward to be sure they are being processed correctly.
  • The new card only applies to original Medicare. Original Medicare is Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (an HMO or PPO you chose or through a former employer or spouse’s employer), you will receive a new Medicare card but should continue to use the Advantage Plan card. Save the new Medicare card in a secure location in case you choose to return to original Medicare during a future Medicare enrollment period.
  • If you have a separate prescription drug plan through Medicare Part D, continue to use that. These new cards have no effect on Medicare Part D.
  • If you don’t receive a new card by May 1, 2019, you should contact Social Security.
  • These changes, once fully implemented, should make Medicare fraud a bit more challenging but scamsters’ ability to evolve is a harsh reality so always work to protect your Medicare information.


  • The information available as to when you might receive your new Medicare card is limited at this time. As stated above, all NEW Medicare enrollees, effective April 1, 2018, will receive the new cards. The states scheduled for the first waves of mailing, April 1 – June 30th, are noted below. Everyone else should receive their cards after June 30, 2018 but before April 1, 2019. More information is to be available on medicare.gov (not mymedicare.gov) as the year progresses. We’ll work to keep you informed.Wave States 1:  Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West VirginiaWave States 2:  Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon
  • The new Medicare identification number will be eleven digits long. An image of the new card follows:
  • The move away from Medicare using Social Security numbers is a positive change. The change is much more of a headache for providers who have to submit claims to Medicare but there will be a period during which claims will be processed under both the old and new numbers. The takeaway here is to expect the new card and to communicate the information to those who need it once you receive it. Thanks.