Health Insurance Matters: New Medicare Cards

Health Insurance Matters / Harry P. Thal

Now that Medicare has completed mailing its new card to people 65 or older California, folks who haven’t gotten one should call the agency to make sure one arrives.

The federal program has set out to blanket the nation with the new cards by April 2019.

If you have not received yours, “you should call Medicare immediately,” said Nan Rosner, an insurance agent with Rosner & Associates.

New cards have a Medicare ID unique to you instead of your Social Security number. Your new card should automatically come to you — just make sure the agency has your up-to-date address. While the instructions that come with the new cards says to discard your old card, I say, “Keep the old card — for now.” The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare’s own website cannot function with the new numbers yet.

“Insurance companies, hospitals, and doctor’s offices will probably have to update their computer systems to retain both the old and new Medicare ID numbers thru Dec. 31, 2019, because old numbers may be valid until then,” said David Zalles, an accountant.

Keep your Medicare Advantage Card. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare. You should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so carry this card too.

Rosner, who helps her insurance clients navigate Medicare and other policies, as of last week hadn’t received her new Medicare card in the mail, so she called Medicare.
“They told me they couldn’t verify my mailing address through the post office, although I’ve lived in the same house for 41 years,” Rosner said. “That was a little concerning. I was told it would be mailed out in a few weeks. If you haven’t received your card either, then you should call.”

For more information, visit the website www.medicare.gov/newcard or call the agency directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) or 1-877-486-2048 for TTY users.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for “Medicare and a Movie.” The informative, educational (no selling) seminar will again be held at Reel Cinema, Wofford Heights, on October 3. There will be new HMO plans introduced for Kern County as well as a Medicare Advantage PPO plan.

Refreshments will be served. Doors open at 12:15 with the “pre-show.” Seminar is at 1:00 p.m. followed by the week’s feature film.

Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 24 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail harrythal@aol.com or visit him on the web at www.harrythal.com.