Q: Some people tell me not to carry my insurance cards with me. What is your advice?
A: I have been asked this question many times. My answer is almost always to carry your insurance cards with you all the time. You never know when you might need them. If you are injured or get sick suddenly, you have them with you, and your insurance situation can be address immediately.
This is also the time of year when you want to be sure that your pharmacy, doctors and other providers have your current insurance cards. If your insurance changed for the new year, it is your responsibility to inform those providers of the change. Your pharmacy cannot process your prescriptions properly without the correct information. Your physician cannot process your referrals or claims without knowing who to contact. So this time of year I think it is very important to carry and show your insurance cards at all your appointments.
The main reason that we tell you not to carry these types of things in your wallet is because of the risk of identity theft. Identity theft can be devastating when it happens. Your world is turned upside down. You can protect yourself by not leaving your insurance cards out where others can see them. I was in the store the other day and the person ahead of me had a wallet that had her Medicare card in a very visible spot. That Medicare number is often someone's Social Security number. That is leaving you open to significant danger. If a criminal has your Social Security number and your date of birth, which is on your driver's license, they can quickly steal your identity.
So, my recommendation is to carry those insurance cards with you, but leave them in a spot where they can't be seen unless you remove them and hand them to someone. Or put them in something besides your wallet. A separate case that holds those types of cards may do just the trick. It is also wise to have a photocopy of all of these cards safely at home, in case you lose the originals. Photocopy the front and back so you have the contact information as well.
Don't leave your purse or wallet unattended on a chair, cart or coat rack. Don't bring it to a party and leave it in the other room. You can bring a purse or wallet, but leave those insurance and ID types things out of it.
Senior Life Matters
You can also protect yourself by checking your monthly prescription drug print outs from your drug company and the Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company. Reviewing this information to be sure that all of the items were in fact prescriptions you received or doctors you have seen, allows you to protect yourself from medical fraud.
With a little caution you can carry this information safely. Again, I want to remind you again to show your insurance cards, especially if they are new this year to your providers. This makes everyone's job easier.