2018 New Medicare Cards: Updates and Security Features

Starting in April 2018, Medicare will start mailing new Medicare cards featuring a new, randomly generated, unique Medicare Number, rather than your Social Security Number.

The initiative comes from the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, requiring Medicare to remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards by April 2019.1 Removing your Social Security Number from your Medicare card reduces the risk of identity theft.

Will my health benefits change?

Your health benefits and coverage will not change with your new Medicare card.

The only change will be to your card itself. You will see a unique Medicare Number rather than your Social Security Number.

When will my new Medicare card arrive?

The new Medicare cards will begin mailing in April 2018. The mailing process has been divided into “waves.” Each wave is assigned a group of states whose residents will receive their new cards.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the following schedule:

Wave States Included Cards Mailing
1 Delaware, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia Beginning May 2018: Complete
2 Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon Beginning May 2018: Complete
3 Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin Beginning June 2018: Complete
4 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont Beginning July 2018: Complete
5 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina Beginning August 2018: Complete
6 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Beginning September 2018:

7 Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands

Beginning October 2018:

2This chart was taken from the CMS “New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy” document.

April 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, has been designated as a transition period. During this time, both new and old cards will be accepted.

Is there anything I can do now?

Your new Medicare card will ship automatically during your state’s wave. You’re not required to do anything to receive your new card.

Though it’s not required, you may want to ensure your address is updated with Social Security. Medicare will use this address for your new card.

Addresses can be updated using your online my Social Security portal, or by visiting your local Social Security office.

You can start using your new card as soon as it arrives. Medicare also recommends you destroy your old card when you get your new one. This should help protect your Social Security Number.

Look out for scams

There are very few reasons Medicare will contact you uninvited, and they will never ask for personal information or threaten to cancel your health benefits.

If you receive a call asking for money or personal information like your Medicare or Social Security Number, hang up immediately.

You can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report a scam or check if a call you received was actually from Medicare.