Recently, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed its new Medicare card design, which will remove Social Security numbers in an effort to combat identity theft and strengthen fraud protections.

CMS has assigned all those with Medicare benefits a new, unique Medicare number containing a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. The new Medicare number replaces the current Social Security-based number.

CMS will begin mailing the new cards to Medicare beneficiaries in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019.

People with Medicare will receive their new card in the mail and be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current card and keep their new Medicare number confidential.

The issuance of the new number will not change benefits those with Medicare receive.

There will be a 21-month transition period where doctors, healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either the current Social Security-based Medicare number or the new, unique Medicare number.

CMS will be working with healthcare providers to answer questions and ensure they have the information needed to make a successful transition to the new Medicare number.

The newly designed Medicare card can be seen in the Medicare & You 2018 handbook now being mailed to about 58 million Americans, including roughly 2.5 million Pennsylvania Medicare beneficiaries.

For more information, you can visit


Jacqueline A. Burch, MSW, LSW, is the executive director of the Lancaster County Office of Aging.

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