New Medicare cards in process of being shipped to Nebraskans

August 5, 2018

Bernie Hergott knows how important Medicare is for numerous Columbus Community Hospital patients.

Hergott, patient financial services director at CCH, said that 43 percent of all patients utilizing hospital services benefit from Medicare. The federal program provides health benefits to American citizens age 65 and older.

“There are different types of coverage that people use,” she said. “There’s Medicare Part A, where there’s no premium attached, Part B which covers all out-patient services and Part D, which is drug coverage.”

In April 2018, Medicare began its nationwide shipments of new identification cards designed to cloak its users with a safety net making them less susceptible to being taken advantage of. The new cards resemble the old ones in most ways, she said, however, Social Security numbers are no longer present on new cards.

Nebraska residents started receiving new Medicare cards in June 2018 and many are still in the process of obtaining new health care cards.

The new cards, absent Social Security numbers, have numbers and letters displayed where the security number previously sat.

“One thing they did that’s very different with these new cards is that there’s a unique combination of numbers and letters randomly selected for each person,” Hergott said. “There’s no suffix or prefix or any meaning to the number, it’s just the number they assign you. They do this to protect your identity and really just to get that Social Security number off of the card.”

Rebecca Turner, patient account supervisor at CCH, said any protective measures that can be taken to mitigate wrongdoing to the senior population is vital.

“This will make it much safer for patients, especially elderly patients who carry their cards around with them,” she said. “There’s a far greater chance that people will be able to keep their identities safe with the new cards.”

In addition to the major card change, some subtle changes were implemented. New cards are no longer a cardboard-type laminated design, but rather paper so that people can re-print their cards if one is misplaced. It’s also a cheaper production alternative, Hergott said.

Hergott said that some people are still in the process of receiving new Medicare cards, and not to worry or panic if one hasn’t arrived. Anybody with questions regarding the arrival of their new card is encouraged to call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE).

Turner said that she believes Medicare is doing what it’s intended to do and that it will continue benefiting people down the road.

“I would really hope it remains constant, especially with all the Baby Boomers coming in,” Turner said. “They have worked hard their whole life for that medical benefit and that needs to stay around for them.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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