In the News: Medicare Issuing New ID Cards to Prevent Identity Theft

Do you have Medicare? If you do, you need to know that in about two years, more than 60 million Medicare members will receive a new ID card. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been working on a plan to roll out new cards nationwide since 2015. To help prepare you and provide some background information, please read through these frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to this change below.

Medicare ID Card FAQ’s

What Will Change on My Medicare ID Card?

If you take a look at your current ID card, it has your social security number (SSN) listed. The new card will have a randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number instead.

Why Does My ID Card Need to Change?

This mandatory change is required per the 2015 legislation called the Medicare Access (MACRA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act. This law prohibits the use of SSN on Medicare cards in order to prevent identify theft and protect seniors.

When Will this Change Occur?

Starting in April 2018, CMS began issuing new identification cards to newly eligible adults with Medicare. Beginning in May 2018, CMS began distributing the new cards to the 60+ million Medicare beneficiaries. The following states will be issued the new cards starting in May 2018:

  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • California, Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oregon

This phased initiative is called the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) and is meant to be complete by April 2019. You can see when your state will start receiving the new card by visiting the CMS website link: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/New-Medicare-Card/NMC-Mailing-Strategy.pdf

Why Does My ID Card Need to Change?

This mandatory change is required per the 2015 legislation called the Medicare Access (MACRA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act. This law prohibits the use of SSN on Medicare cards in order to prevent identify theft and protect seniors.

Is There Any Action I Need to Take to Get My New ID Card?

No action is required at this time. You should receive your new ID card during the transition period beginning in April 2018.

Are There Any Risks to this Change in ID number?

As described by many industry experts, this change will have widespread impact. The change in ID numbers will require the potential reprogramming of 75 complex IT systems that are used to process Medicare claims. In addition, private sector computers and programs will need to be updated if they process or handle Medicare claims. This will touch hospitals, private practices, billing companies and any other stakeholder that interacts with the current Medicare ID now.

How Many People Will Be Impacted?

More than 4,500 people sign up for Medicare each day. By 2025, it is expected that 74 million people will be on Medicare.

This change is meant to protect Medicare beneficiaries but you need to be mindful of scammers. Even with this change, there are people finding new ways to take advantage of your aging loved one during this transition period. Remember the following:

  • Medicare officials will never contact individuals by phone or email asking to confirm a Medicare number so they can send a new card.
  • The new Medicare cards are free so if anyone is requesting payment – that is a scam.

You can be prepared by staying up-to-date on this change and understanding its impact. More information will be provided as the April 2018 date approaches. For additional information, please visit the Medicare.gov website regularly.