Beginning April of 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin replacing Medicare ID cards for 60 million Medicare beneficiaries. This is a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help combat identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars.
Why are new Medicare ID cards important?
Personal identity theft is impacting a large and growing number of senior citizens. Between 2012 and 2014 alone, incidents among seniors increased from 2.1 million to 2.6 million. Identity theft can take not only an emotional toll on those who experience it, but also a financial one: Two-thirds of all identity theft victims reported a direct financial loss. It can also disrupt lives, damage credit ratings and result in inaccuracies in medical records and costly false claims. Because of these issues, CMS has decided to take action to further protect seniors.
What will be different?
The new Medicare cards will use a unique and random number, which will be called your Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI will replace the Social Security number that is on the current ID cards. The new MBI numbers will consist of 11 characters and will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential.
Will I need to keep my old Medicare ID card?
No. Once you receive your new ID card, you will not need your old card any longer. There will be a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or the old Social Security-based ID number. The transition period will begin no earlier than April 1, 2018 and last through December 31, 2019.