Finally, Identity Theft Risk is being fixed in Medicare
The government continues to use Social Security’s sensitive digits as a main identifier for almost 58 million Medicare recipients. Even though it has been years since these numbers have been used on private health insurance cards or driver’s licenses. Next spring this is going to finally start to change when Medicare is going to start sending out the cards which are to replace Social security numbers with a new number that is randomly generated as your new beneficiary identifier.
An outreach campaign was announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which will aid healthcare providers in getting ready for this change. “We are taking this step to help protect our seniors from the fraudulent use of their Social Security numbers which may allow identity theft as well as the use of someone’s Medicare benefits,” said in a statement by a CMS Administrator.
Next April the government begins sending out the new cards then all cards are to be replace by a congressional deadline (April 2019). This takes a long time because of the complex bureaucracy and expense of replacing the cards. Estimated cost in 2011 was $812-$845 million.
There is no doubt that this will be a much-welcomed change as stated by Amy Nofziger, a fraud expert who works for AARP Froud Watch Network. A Social Security number should be a closely guarded piece of information since fraudsters can use it to open credit cards using your name or even stealing your identify. Something not to be carried around in your wallet.
The process should be simple for the beneficiary, simply cut up the old cards which is replaced by your new card. Yet doctors and hospitals will need to create some new procedures for the new cards allowing for the transition.
Since there will be some confusion at the time of transition. You need to beware of any scammers who may pretend to be with Medicare demanding you disclose your personal information or risk losing your benefits. A threat the government would never make. Remember official Medicare representatives never would call, text, or email requesting your personal identifying info.
There are steps beneficiaries can take to protect themselves while waiting for their new cards.
While many don’t know it, you do no need to carry your Medicare card with you all the time. You may need to bring your card to first appointments with new doctors. You could also keep a picture of your card on a password protected smartphone or have a close friend keep a picture the same way in case of emergencies as well as providing information later if you don’t have a card in times of emergencies.