Identity theft and fraudulent medical claims have been on the rise for many years and a social security number is often the key to unlocking all your information to be used by unscrupulous people.
Despite forbidding private insurers from using a social security number on their insurance cards if they’re providing medical or drug benefits while contracted with Medicare, Medicare has continued to use them on their cards. Government watchdogs have spent many years warning about the risk this poses to the more than 50 million people who have a Medicare card.
In 2015, President Obama signed a law, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which would require Medicare to replace all Medicare ID cards with new ones that do not use Social Security numbers. There is a section in the bill that states that Social Security account numbers must not be “displayed, coded or embedded on the Medicare card.”
New cards are scheduled to start being mailed out starting in April 2018. There will be a transition period through 2019, during which doctors and facilities can use either the old cards or the new ones to process health insurance claims and billing. You will want to keep an eye out next year for your new Medicare card coming into your mailbox.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tells you to carry your card with you at all times, however, until you get your new card, you’ll want to avoid doing that, unless you have a doctor appointment. You might also consider making a copy of your card and blacking out all but the last four numbers of your Social Security number. This will, hopefully, provide more protection from falling victim to identity theft and fraudulent medical claims.