To avoid identity theft, we’re always told not to leave the house with important documents — birth certificates, social security cards, etc. — that can be lost or stolen.

But for Medicare beneficiaries, this has always been hard advice to follow. Our Social Security Numbers are printed right there on our Medicare cards, which we need to conduct certain transactions.

Soon, that is going to change. The federal government is removing social security numbers from Medicare cards in order to combat identity theft and better protect people’s healthcare, financial and federal benefit information. Cards are being mailed to all Medicare beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019. You could be getting your card in a couple months, or it could take a bit longer.

As soon as your card arrives, all CHCC residents should please share the details with CHCC (more info on that below) so that we can update our information.  Currently, all Medicare beneficiaries have a Medicare claim number that’s based on their Social Security Number. That number is used to identify each person for the purposes of things like billing, determining eligibility status and processing claims. The new cards will feature a Medicare Beneficiary Number that’s not linked to the SSN. In order to process Medicare transactions, we’ll need that new number.

What do you need to do?

While you’re waiting for your new card, there are a few things you can do to get ready:

  • First, make sure your mailing address is current. If it needs to be updated, contact Social Security at ssa.gov/myaccount or 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.
  • Second, be wary of anyone who contacts you about the new Medicare cards. Warnings have been circulating regarding scams; know that the cards will come in the mail and that you don’t need to give up personal or private information to get them.

After your card arrives, please remember to share details with CHCC:

  • When you get your new card, be sure to share the new number with CHCC, as it is necessary for Medicare transactions, including billing. You can either bring the card to the CHCC front desk to have a copy made or mail a physical photocopy (not the actual card) to the attention of Katie Taylor at CHCC. We’re located at 855 Aaron Drive, Lynden, WA 98264.

You may have seen signs up around Christian Health Care Center’s Lynden facility announcing this change. If you have any further questions about what is happening or how it might affect you, please feel free to contact the front desk for more information.