Medicare by the numbers

Dear Readers: Have you been waiting for a new MEDICARE CARD, one that might protect your identity better? Your wait will be over soon. Here’s the scoop:

Your current Medicare card probably has your Social Security number on it. Medicare strongly suggests that seniors and others who are eligible should carry their Medicare cards at all times, because it is proof of insurance.

But if you lose your wallet or handbag, a thief easily could attempt to steal your identity by using your Social Security number.

Medicare cards are stepping into the 21st century. Your new card will have a specific ID number just for you, one that is NOT your Social Security number. The new cards are to be mailed beginning in April 2018.

You don’t need to do anything to get your new card, and your coverage and benefits will not change. Also, there is no cost to you.

In the meantime, protect your current Medicare card. Visit for hints and tips to protect your identity, and to report fraud. Computerless? Call 1-800-MEDICARE.

— Heloise


Dear Readers: I asked a question back in August: Why do you open your mouth when applying mascara? You have some ideas:

“Opening your mouth slightly when applying mascara relaxes the facial muscles, making you less likely to blink.”

— C. Smith,

Helotes, Texas

“The reason we open our mouths to apply mascara is because it pulls the skin below our eyelashes down.”

— Anita L.,

Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Heloise, that is about the only way to keep from blinking. Heard about that tip at least 40 years ago — and it works!”

— Nancy in San Antonio

“It is necessary to have a smooth and taut area to put on the mascara.” — C.F., San Angelo, Texas

“It’s a reflexive action to open the mouth when applying mascara. Doing so arches our eyebrows and makes it easier to keep mascara off the eyelids.”

— Deborah N., via email

Thanks for your responses!

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: When I place an order online, I dislike later getting advertising emails from the company. I look over the site when placing the order for a checked box that requests follow-up offers, etc.

It usually is on the lower left side, but could be anyplace. I remove the check mark, and I don’t receive emails.

— Glenda S., via email


Dear Readers: If you find yourself in an orthopedic “boot” due to an injury to your toes, foot or ankle, make sure your other foot can balance when you walk. You may need a shoe with a taller heel. Ask your doctor about this.

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: If I use a paper towel just to dry my hands, I lay it flat and let it dry. It can be reused to wipe out the sink, scrub a spot on the counter or wiping off dishes before they go into the dishwasher.

— Mary K. in Phoenix

You are a recycle warrior!

— Heloise


Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise(at) I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.