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Oklahoma seniors to get new Medicare cards starting this week

A sample of how the new Medicare cards will look. [Provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]

A sample of how the new Medicare cards will look. [Provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]

Oklahoma City — About 713,000 Oklahoma seniors will start receiving new Medicare cards this week.

The new card won't change recipients' benefits. The only difference is that they have a random identification number, rather than the holder's Social Security number.

People who are new to Medicare have received cards with the new format since April, so they won't receive a replacement card.

Social Security numbers are particularly valuable to criminals, because they could use them to take out credit with a victim's identity. In the case of Medicare beneficiaries, scammers also can use them to defraud the government.

“Removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards is one of the many ways CMS is committed to putting patients first and improving the consumer health care experience,” Angela Brice-Smith, Medicare's Southwestern regional administrator, said in a news release. “This change not only protects Medicare patients from fraud but also safeguards taxpayer dollars by making it harder for criminals to use Social Security numbers to falsely bill Medicare for care services and benefits that were never performed.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advised beneficiaries to destroy their old cards after receiving a new one.

While the new Medicare number isn't as risky as a Social Security number, recipients still need to guard it. Only health care providers and insurers need to ask you for your Medicare number.

Some scammers are taking advantage of confusion around the rollout to try to steal personal information or money. Medicare won't call and ask for your information to send you a new card, and there is no charge for a new card. If you receive a suspicious call, report it to Medicare at 800-633-4227.

Meg Wingerter

Meg Wingerter has covered health at The Oklahoman since July 2017. Previously, she lived in Topeka, Kansas, and worked at Kansas News Service and The Topeka Capital-Journal, where she earned awards for business coverage. She graduated from... Read more ›