New Medicare Cards Coming in 2018 ~ Beware of Scams

New Medicare Cards Coming in 2018 ~ Beware of Scams

Have you heard you’ll be getting a new Medicare card? Wondering when or why? This isn’t happening until April 2018 but scammers are already jumping on the confusion as an opportunity for fraud. That’s why we’re sharing some facts.

 

WHY?
Due to Congress passing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) in 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. This process will start in April 2018 and end no later than April 2019. This is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI). New Medicare cards will be issued with randomly assigned 11 characters made up of numbers and digits. These 11 characters will be your new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI).

This change is to help prevent fraud and protect your identity. Currently, most people’s Social Security number is their Medicare number, which makes collecting Medicare numbers an easy target for scammers to steal your identity, open new credit cards or take out loans in your name. The new MBI, however, will not be tied to your Social Security number and is therefore more secure.

 

WHEN?
CMS will start mailing the new cards in April 2018. CMS has already started educating providers who need time to update their systems for these new identification numbers.

 

HOW?
So how may scammers use this change to their advantage? They prey on any confusion. Some scammers call beneficiaries claiming to be Medicare and say they must confirm their current Medicare numbers before sending them a new card. Others call saying there is a charge for the new card and are collecting beneficiaries’ personal information. There is no charge for your new card and Medicare will never call you for your information. They already have it.

If you receive any such calls or suspicious solicitations, hang up and call the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.

If you need help with your Medicare, call the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) at 1-800-434-0222.

We have a shorter version of this article available as a fraud alert translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Farsi and Tagalog. Please use and share.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.