Monday, September 18, 2017

New Medicare Cards Coming In April 2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is implementing a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help prevent identity theft, and safeguard taxpayer dollars.

Under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, the CMS must remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions.

“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. 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.

Under the new system, for each person enrolled in Medicare, the CMS will assign a new MBI and mail a new Medicare card.

As the CMS's website explains, the new cards will use a unique, randomly-assigned number called an MBI to replace the Social Security-based HICN currently used on the Medicare card. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. The MBI is private like the SSN and should be protected as Personally Identifiable Information.

CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019.  The CMS will have a transition period where you can use either the HICN or the MBI to exchange data for Medicare transactions. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018 and run through December 31, 2019.

As outlined by Eileen Ambrose of AARP, here is what you need to know about the new Medicare cards:
* The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin mailing the cards to beneficiaries in April 2018.
* The cards will automatically be mailed to all 58 million current beneficiaries. You don’t need to do anything special to receive one.
* The new cards will feature a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) made up of 11 letters and numbers. Each MBI is unique, randomly generated, and the characters are "non-intelligent," which means they don't have any hidden or special meaning.
*Your benefits will not change under the new MBI.
* People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.

However, remain leery of scams, warn the folks at Scam artists may try to get your current Medicare number and other personal information by contacting you about your new Medicare card. They often claim to be from Medicare and use various scams to get your Medicare Number including:
* Asking you to confirm your Medicare or Social Security Number so they can send you a new card.
* Telling you there's a charge for your new card and they need to verify your personal information.
* Threatening to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your Medicare Number or other personal information.
If someone calls you and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

For more information on the new Medicare cards, see:




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