Starting April 1, the government will mail new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare coverage. The big change? No more Social Security numbers on Medicare cards.

Over the next year, federal government agencies will remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and will mail each Medicare customer in America a new card to help fight identity theft. Cardholders will receive a new Medicare ID — a combination of letters and numbers — that's unique to them, and it will be used only for Medicare coverage.

The new card won't change coverage or benefits. Seniors who receive Medicare will get more information when their new card is mailed.

Here's how to prepare:

  • Make sure your mailing address is up to date. If your address needs to be corrected, contact Social Security online at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount or call 1-800-772-1213.  For TTY, call 1-800-325-0778.
  • Beware of scam artists and anyone who contacts you or the senior in your life about a new Medicare card. The agency in charge of Medicare will never ask for personal or private information to get a new Medicare number and card.
  • Mailing everyone eligible a new card will take time. Your card might arrive at a different time than your friend's or neighbor's.

Here are nine facts to know about the new Medicare cards:

  1. Your new card will automatically come to you — as long as your address is up to date.
  2. Your new card will have a new Medicare number that's unique to you, instead of your Social Security number. This will help to protect your identity.
  3. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  4. Your new card is paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
  5. Once you get your new Medicare card, you can start using it right away.
  6. Doctors, other health-care providers, and facilities know it's coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.
  7. Give your new Medicare number only to doctors, pharmacists, other health-care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
  8. If you forget your new card, you, your doctor or other health-care provider may be able to look up your Medicare number online.
  9. If you're in a Medicare Advantage Plan (such as an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare — you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card, too.

Watch out: Scam artists may try to get personal information (such as your current Medicare number) by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Or visit the Medicare website: https://www.medicare.gov.