On September 14, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its newly designed Medicare card and informed all Medicare beneficiaries to look for their new card in the mail. The new Medicare card contains a unique, randomly assigned number that replaces the current Social Security-based number to help prevent fraud and combat identify theft.

Medicare beneficiaries will begin receiving the new cards in the mail starting in April 2018 with instructions to destroy the old card. The issuance of the new card does not change any Medicare benefits. Providers will be able to use a secure website to look up the new Medicare numbers but CMS will allow a 21-month transition period in which doctors, other healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either the current SSN-based Medicare numbers or the new, unique Medicare numbers.

CMS has published a fact sheet for providers about the new Medicare numbers and cards.