A message from Palmetto GBA:
Whether you’re new to Railroad Medicare or starting a new year with Railroad Medicare, it’s important to know about the change to how Medicare identifies you.
In 2020, Medicare providers must use your new Medicare number. The old Social Security-based number can no longer be used for claims filing, no matter what date your provider furnished a service to you. This means if you had a doctor’s visit on January 15, 2019, the provider must file the claim before January 15, 2020 and they must use your new Medicare number. If your provider does not have your new number, you need to give that to them. Claims filed without the new number will be rejected by Medicare and cannot be processed for any payment.
If the provider is not able to get with you to get your new number, they can use our Medicare number lookup tool on our website. We would hope this would be the exception, not the norm. In order to use the Medicare lookup tool, the provider must have your Social Security number (SSN). If you do not want to give your SSN to a provider, make sure to show them your Medicare card with your new Medicare number.
Additionally, you will also need to use your new Medicare number if you call customer service at Railroad Medicare or 1-800-MEDICARE. Medicare contractors cannot accept any other form of identification over the telephone or in writing.
Here are the details about new Medicare number:

  • It will have 11 characters.
  • The numbers will be generated randomly. Medicare considers them ‘non-intelligent’ numbers that don’t have any hidden or special meaning.
  • It will be unique to each patient.
  • It will contain capital letters (all letters with the exception of S, L, O, I, B and Z) and numbers (0-9).
  • The 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 9th characters will always be a letter, while characters 1, 4, 7, 10, and 11 will always be a number. The 3rd and 6th characters will be a letter or a number.
  • There will be no dashes in the numbers on the card.

As you may have experienced in the past, providers can’t always tell the difference between a Social Security Medicare patient and a RRB patient. They may submit your claims to regular Medicare instead of Railroad Medicare. To help providers know what patient they have, the new cards will have the RRB logo on them when applicable, so your doctor’s office will know where to submit claims. Your provider can also use an online portal if they have your Medicare number but don’t know if it’s a Railroad Medicare number. We educate providers on our portal regularly, but some may not be aware.
If you have a provider who may be confused, have them call our Provider Contact Center at 888-355-9165. Customer service representatives are available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in all time zones with the exception of the Pacific time zone, which receives service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific.

Last July, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) mailed approximately 450,000 new Railroad Medicare cards with new Medicare Numbers. The new Medicare Numbers, which are unique to each person with Railroad Medicare and do not contain Social Security Number (SSNs), replace the former Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs). Providers can bill claims to Medicare with either a HICN or a new Medicare Number through December 31, 2019.
At this time, approximately 70% of the Railroad Medicare claims received are submitted with Medicare Numbers. Beginning January 1, 2020, all providers will be required to file claims with Medicare Numbers only.
When it’s time for a doctor’s appointment or other Medicare service, be sure to take your new card with you. Your provider’s office knows everyone should have a new Medicare Number, and they will need to keep a record of your Medicare Number so they can bill Railroad Medicare correctly.
If your provider does not have a copy of your card, they may be able to look up your information with their local Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) or with Palmetto GBA Railroad Medicare through our online provider portals. These portals give authorized providers access to claims history, eligibility and more. The portals also contain a tool that allows providers to look up a Medicare Number with the following patient information:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number

Please note that in order to use the tool to look up your Medicare Number, a provider must have your Social Security Number. If you do not want to give a provider your SSN, allow them to have a copy of your card or verbally give them your Medicare Number. If you have not used your card yet, you are making it much more difficult for your providers to file claims timely. One of the reasons for having the new cards was to give protection from identity theft. One way to do that is to be very selective when giving your personal information to a trusted entity (your doctor, insurers, etc.).
When verbally giving your Medicare Number to a provider, or to a Customer Service Advocate when you call Railroad Medicare, make sure to read it correctly. Medicare Numbers have 11 characters and contain numbers and uppercase letters only. They do not contain the letters S, L, O, I, B or Z. Characters one, four, seven, 10 and 11 will always be a number. The second, fifth, eighth and ninth characters will always be a letter. The third and sixth characters will be a letter or a number.
Sample RRB Medicare Card:

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, your new Medicare card does not replace your plan’s identification card. You will continue to use your plan’s ID card to receive your Medicare benefits.
If you did not receive your new Medicare Card with your new Medicare Number, you can call Palmetto’s Beneficiary Contact Center at 800-833-4455 or the Railroad Retirement Board at 877-772-5772.
Have questions?
If you have questions about new Medicare cards or Medicare Numbers, please call Palmetto GBA’s Beneficiary Contact Center at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. You are encouraged to sign up for email updates. To do so, click ‘Listservs’ on the top banner on the Palmetto website at www.PalmettoGBA.com/RR/Me. You are also encouraged to use the beneficiary portal, MyRRMed, which is located at www.PalmettoGBA.com/MyRRMed.