New Medicare cards offer better identity protection for millions of Americans
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) (@CMSGov) recently completed a large-scale effort to provide new Medicare cards without Social Security numbers to people with Medicare. The new cards support the agency’s work to protect personal identity and reduce fraud and abuse. Over the past nine months, CMS sent new cards to more than 61 million people with Medicare across all U.S. states and territories, completing the mailing ahead of schedule.
“Safeguarding our beneficiaries’ personal information continues to be one of our top priorities,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “The Trump Administration is committed to modernizing Medicare and has expedited this process to ensure the protection of Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayer dollars from the potential for fraud and abuse due to personal information that existed on the old cards. All beneficiaries should continue to use these new cards as a valuable resource when seeking care. These new cards will not only be easier for beneficiaries, but also provide the Medicare program with essential protections due to the new unique identifier on the cards.”
In April 2018, CMS began mailing the new Medicare cards, each of which features a unique, randomly assigned Medicare number known as a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). The MBI is a combination of letters and numbers that helps protect against personal identity theft and fraud. CMS mailed the new cards on a rolling schedule to all people with Medicare, completing the task three months before the April 2019 deadline for replacing old Medicare cards set by Congress as part of the legislation passed under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015.
Medicare patients are successfully using their new cards in doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities. More than half of healthcare claims CMS is processing now include the new MBI, demonstrating a smooth transition to the new cards. Healthcare providers submitted 58% of all Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) claims with an MBI for the week ending January 11th.
For anyone with Medicare who has not received a new card by now, CMS offers these tips:
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. They will verify your identity, check your address on record, and help you get your new card.
- Log into your MyMedicare.gov account to get your new Medicare number or print your official card. The new Medicare number is now available in your account, even if you didn’t receive your card in the mail. Accounts are password-protected and secure. To access or create an account, visit MyMedicare.gov.
- Ask your healthcare provider. Providers may be able to look up your Medicare number through a secure portal when you come in for healthcare services.
Although the new Medicare cards are designed to protect against identity theft, people with Medicare should continue to look out for scams. CMS offers these tips:
- Destroy your old Medicare card so no one can get your personal information.
- Start using your new Medicare card right away. Carry it when you need healthcare. Medicare coverage and benefits are the same. The new card does not impact or change your healthcare benefits.
- Keep your other plan cards. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or a Medicare Drug Plan, keep using that plan ID card whenever you need care or prescriptions. However, please carry and protect your new Medicare card too — you may be asked to show it.
- Protect your Medicare number just like a credit card. Only give the new Medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, other healthcare providers, insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Medicare will never call uninvited for your Medicare number or other personal information.