Seniors be on the lookout for new Medicare card
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has a message for seniors with Medicare: Watch your mailboxes.Beginning next month, the federal government will begin issuing new Medicare cards that will have unique, randomly assigned numbers and letters that replace Social Security numbers. The cards will be mailed out in waves beginning April 1 and running through April 2019.Oregon Medicare beneficiaries are in the first group to receive new cards, but cards won’t be headed to Washington residents until after June. A more exact timeline isn’t yet available.The new cards will feature an 11-character identifier, which will include numbers and uppercase letters. The combinations are randomly assigned and don’t have any hidden or special meaning, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.Medicare beneficiaries should start using their new cards as soon as they receive them, but the old cards and numbers will still work until Dec. 31, 2019. The cards do not change Medicare benefits.The biggest reason for the change is to protect seniors from medical identity theft, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Incidents of identity theft among seniors increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014, according to Department of Justice data.