Last month, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), begin an initiative to safeguard taxpayer dollars by combating fraud and illegal use of Medicare cards by issuing a new cards that will no longer contain the beneficiary’s Social Security numbers. The new paper card is still red, white and blue, 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 existing Medicare card. It will also no longer include gender, signature or other information that could compromise a Medicare beneficiary’s identity.
CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. For residents of Hearthstone Assisted Living on Medicare and other beneficiaries residing in New Jersey, you are scheduled to receive your new Medicare ID card after June 2018. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s. Before the mailing begins, beneficiaries should make sure their addresses are correct. Any changes can be made by contacting the Social Security Administration, which will be preparing and mailing the cards, at ssa.gov/myaccount or bycalling 800-772-1213.
Destroy Your Old Medicare Card After Receiving New One
Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives
Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new card right away. Issuance of the new card will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiaries receives. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare—you should still keep and use it whenever you need care. And, if you have a Medicare drug plan, be sure to keep that card as well. Even if you use one of these other cards, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so keep it with you.
CMS also wants beneficiaries to beware of anyone who contacts them about their replacement Medicare card, as scammers have already targeted recipients with new ploys. CMS officials say they will never ask a beneficiary for personal or private information or for any money as a condition of getting a new Medicare number and card.
Work on this important federal initiative began many years ago, and was accelerated following passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), says CMS, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare program
CMS says that personal identity theft affects a large and growing number people age 60 and over who are finding themselves the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among this age group 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.
“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, announcing the issuing of new Medicare cards. “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.”
According to CMS, providers and beneficiaries will both be able to use secure look up tools that will support quick access to MBIs when they need them. There will also be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or the HICN further easing the transition.
Protect Yourself Against Scammers
CMS warns beneficiaries to beware of anyone who contacts them about their replacement Medicare card, as scammers have already targeted recipients with new ploys. CMS officials say they will never ask a beneficiary for their personal or private information or for any money as a condition of getting a new Medicare number and card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
For more details, go to www.cms.gov/medicare/ssnri/index.html.