Identity theft among seniors has become a significant problem. Social security numbers, license numbers and bank account numbers should be guarded and not released unless you definitively know who is viewing this information. Then why do the Medicare Health Insurance Cards still show the beneficiary’s social security number on the face of the card? This is the question many have posed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and they have finally moved to correct this wrong.
CMS has released images of the newly designed and renamed Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) card. The new MBI card will be introduced on April 1, 2018. The card will go through a transition period from April 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, as more than 44 million beneficiaries convert to the new card with a new identification number. The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier card will contain a unique, randomly-assigned 11-character identification number that replaces the current Social Security-based number. Each MBI identifier will be randomly generated. An example of the new identifier would be: 1EG4-TE5-MK73
CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people who receive Medicare benefits in April 2018. The statutory deadline is to replace all the existing Medicare health insurance cards by December 31, 2019.
CMS will assign all people with Medicare benefits a new unique Medicare number. The number will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. When the beneficiary receives their new card, they will be instructed to guard their activated card and safely destroy their old card. They still must guard their new Medicare identifier; however, the new unique number will add another layer between the beneficiary and their personal information. The Medicare benefits will not change with the issuance of the new numbers.
Patients should be informed to notify the healthcare office when they receive their new card and number. To avoid confusion and to afford a smoother transition, there will be a 21-month period where doctors, healthcare providers, and suppliers will be able to use either their current social security number or their new, unique Medicare Beneficiary number.
This initiative takes important steps towards protecting the identities of people with Medicare. It also serves as a reminder to all of us to guard our personal information and be on the lookout for phishing scams.
For further information, please see the government’s website: www.cms.gov/newcard.
Dr. Fucinari is a Certified Medical Compliance Specialist (MCS-P) and a Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO). He is a member of the Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee. He is on the speaker’s bureau for NCMIC, Foot Levelers a, d ChiroHealthUSA. He is a frequent speaker at chiropractic colleges and state associations. To schedule Dr. Fucinari for your event or for further information and available resources, Dr. Mario Fucinari can be contacted at Doc@Askmario.com or through www.Askmario.com.