Identity theft is on the rise in America, and a new Medicare card is being issued to help protect recipients’ information. Need information about changes to the new card, what you need to do, and why a new card format was issued? Curious about the new format’s benefits to you? I’ve got you covered.

You can watch this video or read on to get more information:

Watch Your Mailbox

A 2015 law requires Medicare to remove social security numbers from all cards by April of this year (2018). This means that starting in April, all Medicare recipients will be issued new cards. These cards will be significantly different from the ones in past years. They are printed on paper, so they can be easily photocopied, and you can print a replacement if yours is lost or damaged. In the place of your Social Security number, your card will have a unique Medicaid ID number.

Minor Inconvenience, Big Benefits

Once upon a time, most insurance cards used the beneficiary’s Social Security number as their identification number. It was simply printed on the card, as has been the case with Medicare cards up until now.

Unfortunately, this causes a huge problem because identity thieves know this. Social Security numbers are a major piece of identifying information that can be used in identity theft. If the numbers are on the card, anyone who sees the card can access them fairly easily. Unless you notice a theft, you may not be aware until you’re already a victim.

By replacing your Social Security numbers with a Medicare ID number, program administrators make it harder for your SSN to fall into the wrong hands. You should still protect your new ID number, but it is Medicare-specific and much more difficult to steal.

How to Use the New Medicare Card

Watch your mailbox for your new card starting in April. Once your card arrives, destroy your old card. Keep your Medicaid Plus card. Your doctors have already been informed about the change and will ask for your new card when you have an appointment, so keep it handy. If your card does not arrive by May, call your Medicaid provider.

Bureaucratic changes can be confusing and require some adjustment, especially when they affect something as important as your healthcare. In this case, however, it is definitely a good change. In a time when a few bits of personal information in the wrong hands could potentially ruin your life, better protection for our Social Security numbers is worth the inconvenience.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.