Good news from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the more than 57.7 million Americans on Medicare. To combat fraud and illegal use, the new Medicare cards will no longer contain Social Security numbers.
The new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). This will 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.
If you are a Medicare beneficiary, expect a new card in the mail before long. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is mailing the cards out in waves over the next year to the beneficiary address on file with the Social Security Administration. Pennsylvania is among the first group of states in which the new cards are to be issued. Recipients are being advised that once their new card arrives, they should begin using it with medical providers and destroy their old Medicare card. Furthermore, this will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019.
“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”
Providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools. These Tools will support quick access to MBIs when they need them.
Why does it matter?
Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the 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. Currently, 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.
This makes it imperative that we protect our Elders from this kind of abuse. This change is a great start!