When a severe weather event happens (such as a hurricane, typhoon, earthquake or wildfire), the last thing you or your healthcare provider are thinking about is Medicare. Concerns are about staying alive and what kind of home and property damage you will have. Your situation may be the most-stressful event in your life. When a disaster like the California wildfires or Hurricane Dorian hits, your survival is most important.
Medicare understands this.
For some disasters, like a hurricane or wildfires, the Secretary of Health and Human Services may declare a Public Health Emergency (PHE), which provides waivers for 90 days. In Hurricane Dorian, Medicare made accommodations in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In those states, providers have an extension on the time allowed to enroll providers or request appeals.
As a patient, you may wonder if Medicare will pay if you see another doctor outside of the disaster area or another sate to receive the care you need. Medicare/Railroad Medicare beneficiaries can receive services anywhere in the United States. The services must be medically necessary and a covered Medicare benefit.
Another concern when a disaster hits is what happens if you lose your Medicare card. If you’ve lost your card (and can’t remember the number) but need to see a doctor or other healthcare provider in an affected area before you receive a replacement card, Medicare advises providers to hold their claims until you receive your new card. It is your responsibility to inform the provider of your new Medicare number. If you need emergency care and do not have your Medicare card or know the number, providers should try to obtain your Medicare number from you or your family. If that fails to be successful, your provider can call Railroad Medicare to request the Medicare number. This should be a rare incidence.
If you have questions or need to obtain a replacement Medicare card, you can call our Beneficiary Customer Service Center at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET to order a new one. For the hearing impaired, call TTY/TDD at 877-566-3572. You may also call the Railroad Retirement Board at 877-772-5772.
We encourage you to visit our website at www.PalmettoGBA.com/RR/Me and visit our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/MyRRMedicare.

Whether a person is receiving Medicare through Social Security or through the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), the patient may be vulnerable to identity theft due to the SSN/RRB Claim number being present on their Medicare card.
Soon, you won’t need to worry about someone obtaining your personal information from your Medicare card. Starting in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in conjunction with the RRB, will begin issuing new cards with a ‘Medicare Beneficiary Identifier’ or MBI. These cards will be sent in phases to existing Medicare beneficiaries, and by April 2019, all Medicare/Railroad Medicare cards will be free of personally identifiable information. This includes the removal of the gender and signature line.
Here is what an MBI will look like:

  • 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, and
  • The 3rd and 6th characters will be a letter or a number
  • There will be no dashes in the numbers on the card

To learn more about the layout of an MBI, please visit this CMS webpage: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/Understanding-the-MBI-with-Format.pdf.
As you may have experienced, providers can’t always tell the difference between an SSN 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.
This October, you will receive your 2018 Medicare & You handbook, which will contain additional information about the MBI change.
If you have a question about a claim, you may call Palmetto GBA’s Beneficiary Contact Center at 800-833-4455, or for the hearing-impaired, call TTY/TDD at 877-566-3572. Customer Service Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET. You’re also encouraged to visit Palmetto’s website at www.PalmettoGBA.com/RR/Me.