New Medicare Card
The red, white, and blue Medicare card has changed. It is the new and improved Medicare card.
The one complaint that I have heard over the years repeatedly is that the Medicare card has ‘my social security number on it.’ The Medicare claim number, as it is called, is your social security number with an A on end, or it may have another letter depending on your designation as a widow, dependent child, etc. Medicare beneficiaries don’t like their social security displayed so readily because you need to carry your Medicare card in your wallet and purse. It is essential for the pharmacy, doctors’ office, hospital, and emergency room. You don’t want to leave home without it, but that also makes it a vulnerable target for identity theft. How many people see your Medicare card in the course of a week–pharmacists, pharmacist techs, cashiers, receptionists, lab techs, claim processers, and a whole host of other people? It is hard to keep your Medicare number confidential when so many people and entities have it on file.
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help combat identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The new Medicare card will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary identifier (MBI) to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card. CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. CMS kicked off a multifaceted outreach campaign to help providers get ready for the new MBI.
Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People aged 65 or older are increasingly victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice. Identity theft can take not only an emotional toll on those who experience it but also a financial one: two-thirds of all identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss. It can also disrupt lives, damage credit ratings, and result in inaccuracies in medical records and costly false claims.
Work on this important initiative began many years ago and was accelerated following the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). CMS will assign all Medicare beneficiaries a new, unique MBI number which will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters on your new Medicare card. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new Medicare card with the MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives.
You can find out about the Social Security Removal Initiate (SSNRI), where you can find the latest information about the new Medicare card and sign-up for a newsletter. As always, when you need help with your Medicare, give us a call at 402-614-3389.