Identity theft is a serious problem in the modern world. To minimize the risk, people are warned to keep sensitive information private – but that’s difficult to do when your Social Security Number is written on your Medicare card. This is why CMS will start issuing new Medicare cards that do not include Social Security Numbers.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 requires Social Security Numbers to be removed from Medicare cards by April 2019. To comply with MACRA, CMS will begin issuing new cards that use a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, a new number that will replace Social Security Numbers on Medicare cards and will be unique to each individual.
Your New Card
Medicare beneficiaries do not need to do anything to receive their new cards. New cards will be mailed to Medicare beneficiaries automatically.
The switch will take some time. CMS will start sending out new cards in April 2018. By April 2019, all beneficiaries should have received new cards. Once you receive your new card, you should start using it in place of your old card. This will help keep your Social Security Number safe. However, during the transition, both the old cards with Social Security Numbers and the new cards with Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers will be accepted.
To make sure that the new cards and other important correspondences are received, Medicare beneficiaries should make sure their current address is on file. If they have moved recently, they should update their address.
The new Medicare cards are designed to help prevent identity theft, but in a somewhat ironic twist, scammers may try to use the change to trick people out of their personal information.
These scammers may call Medicare beneficiaries while claiming to work from CMS. They may explain that they need to issue new Medicare cards, but they need to verify some information first. In reality, CMS is not conducting such calls, and these people are lying in order to steal personal information. Do not respond to these scammers. Do not provide them with your personal information. Hang up the phone.
The same advice goes for anyone who calls claiming to be from CMS and demanding payment or information, regardless of the reason given.
Although the use of Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers in place of Social Security Numbers should help in the fight against identity theft, these new numbers should still be seen as confidential information.