Public Interest Law Section Blog
February 26, 2018
Tip of the Month:
Watch for New Medicare Cards
In the February Tip of the Month, Kate Schilling explains what Medicare beneficiaries should look for in the transition to new member identification cards, and how to avoid related identity-theft scams.
Medicare has provided health insurance coverage to older adults for more than 50 years.
Medicare A & B have always utilized people’s Social Security numbers as their identification numbers. However, with increasing instances of identity theft across the country, the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) was signed into law in 2015 to change the means of identification of Medicare beneficiaries.
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) has been working on implementation of this change over the past few years to ensure a smooth transition, to reduce the instances of scams related to the transition, and to work with both insurance providers and medical providers who will need to update their methods for submitting claims and billing Medicare on behalf of patients. The identification number conversion will affect more than 55 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide.
The new Medicare number will be a unique, randomly assigned number with a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. A sample of the new card design was released to the public in September 2017.
New Medicare cards will be mailed out, state by state, to Medicare beneficiaries between April 2018 and December 2019. The cards will be mailed to beneficiaries in Wisconsin after June 2018.
Medicare beneficiaries do not need to do anything to receive their new card – it will come automatically in the mail. There is a 21-month transition period where health care providers and suppliers will accept either the current Social Security-based Medicare number or the new unique Medicare number to ease the transition.
The new card design was announced in Sept. 2017
As a reminder, Medicare will never call beneficiaries to ask for their Medicare numbers, or ask them to pay a fee associated with the replacement card. Anyone who receives a phone call from someone purporting to be calling from Medicare should hang up and report the contact to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint Assistant.
For more information on the transition to new Medicare cards, see:
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