Roadmap Staff

The Roadmap for Medicare staff specialize in all topics related to Medicare Part D, choosing a Medicare plan, and making smart health decisions in retirement.

New Medicare Cards Fight Fraud

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is replacing the current Medicare cards with new cards. CMS is issuing the new cards in response to recommendations from the General Accountability Office, Medicare beneficiaries and advocacy groups. The new cards don’t use or display a beneficiary’s Social Security number. This protects beneficiaries who in the past have been unnecessarily exposed to fraud by the sharing of their personal information. The newly issued cards are also intended to protect taxpayer dollars because it will make it harder to bill Medicare for services that were never performed.

In place of the Social Security number, the new cards will use a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number that will be uniquely generated for each person. The MBI will use a random combination of numbers and capital letters. To avoid confusion between capital letters and numbers, the letters S, L, O, I, B and Z are not being used.

With more than 59 million beneficiary cards to replace, the new cards are being distributed over the course of a year.

What do beneficiaries need to do?

The new cards will be automatically sent on a rolling basis between April 2018 and April of 2019. You will not receive any calls or requests from Medicare for information. If Medicare has your current address, you don’t need to do anything. However, it’s important to call Medicare if you need to update your address so that you will receive your card promptly. You can contact Medicare at 1.800.633.4227 (TTY users, call 1.877.486.2048), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also sign up to receive an email notification about when to expect your card in the mail by visiting

Once your new card arrives, you will need to dispose of your old one by cutting it up so that your Social Security number is destroyed. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will remain the same and there are no extra steps required by you to activate your card.

A transition period will be in effect through December 31, 2019, during which healthcare providers will accept both Medicare cards – the older plastic one, which includes your Social Security number, and the new paper version that includes your new MBI number.

Protect yourself from scammers and identity theft

A Medicare representative will never contact you by phone unless you have left a message requesting a callback. The representative will never ask you to provide personal information.

If someone calls you or sends an email asking for information or money they say is required for you to obtain your new Medicare card, you should immediately hang up and call Medicare at the numbers provided above.  You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling 1.877.438.4338 (TTY users, call 1.866.653.4261).

At the end of the day it’s all about your protection. So be on the lookout for your new card and don’t respond to anyone asking for your information or trying to sell you what they say is the new Medicare card. Be informed. Be alert. Be protected.

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Four Rules of the Road

Four simple rules to follow when choosing a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, including looking at your Medicare plan premium, your prescription drug costs and copays, and the pharmacy network that’s right for you.

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Understanding Medicare Part D

Watch this short video that explains the stages of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and how they can impact your healthcare costs.

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Pharmacy Network

Learn how using a Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network where you live or travel can save you money on prescription drugs you take regularly.

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What are Medicare Part D Star Ratings? Are they important?

Medicare created the Star Ratings system to help you compare quality and performance among Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs). Medicare determines the ratings each year, evaluating a plan’s performance in more than 50 areas across 4 broad categories. These categories range from customer service to patient safety. Medicare assigns them a rating of 1 to 5 stars. This provides a current and unbiased measurement of a plan’s overall performance.

Star Ratings are an important factor to consider when choosing a plan. They take the guesswork out of selecting a trustworthy plan by telling you if the plan is likely to offer high quality.

In general, you should look for plans with a rating of 3 to 5 stars. At, you can view the details of a plan’s Star Rating to see how well it performs in each category. If the plan you like has low ratings, review the Star Ratings details to make sure it’s a good choice for you.

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What Are Medicare TrOOP Costs?

Keeping Track of Your Out-of-Pocket Drug Expenses

It’s likely you’ve heard the term “out of pocket,” which refers to the Medicare expenses that aren’t reimbursed by insurance. A less familiar term, but one that is extremely important to Medicare Part D prescription drug plan members who enter the Coverage Gap, is “true out-of-pocket” or “TrOOP” costs. Your Medicare TrOOP expenses determine when you’ll leave the Coverage Gap, which is the third stage of the standard Medicare Part D benefit, and when you’ll enter Catastrophic Coverage, the fourth and final stage of the benefit. To better understand these coverage stages, please watch this video.