Every year about this time I get my flu shot at the pharmacy in my supermarket. But last week when I went in for my shot, I encountered an unexpected new rule. What’s a bureaucracy without new rules?
This year they needed to see my Medicare card. I said I never carry it because it has my Social Security number on it. Besides, they’d never needed it. I was told there’s a new regulation; this year Medicare wants to see your official Medicare card before they’ll pay for the shot. (And no, the card from my Medicare Cost plan was not sufficient this time; it had to be the official red, white, and blue Medicare card.)
Fortunately, they were willing to give me the shot with my promise that I’d bring the card to them for photocopying the next time I’m in the store. Not surprisingly they’d already encountered other seniors who weren’t carrying their cards.
To be honest, I don’t know if this is a new federal regulation or if it’s always been in place and the pharmacy simply was not in compliance in the past. In any case, seniors who haven’t gotten their flu shots yet should make a point of taking their official, original Medicare cards with them when they go. Cards from other types of payment plans will not be accepted.
This incident raised again the issue of theft hazard if you routinely carry your Medicare card, so I decided to confirm what I remembered reading some years ago. AARP recommends that you photocopy your card, cut it to wallet size, and cut out the last four digits of your SS number. That way you can carry proof of coverage with you at all times without exposing yourself to possible loss or theft and subsequent identity theft. AARP says you’ll probably still need your official card the first time you visit a new provider so the provider can photocopy it for their records.