Focus on Seniors

New Medicare Cards Will be Missing Something

Don't expect to see Social Security numbers on new Medicare cards.
Matilda Charles, June 2017

You’ve no doubt noticed that part of your Medicare card number is your Social Security number. That’s finally going to change.

The push to get Social Security numbers off Medicare cards started in 2002 with the Government Accountability Office saying it was seeing a pattern of identity theft from stolen Medicare cards. In 2006, after an audit by the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, Medicare fought back and claimed it would take up to 13 years and lots of money to get the number off Medicare cards.

The “Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2008” was passed in Congress by the House, but was ignored by the Senate. Finally, in 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. It’s now a public law. That act gives Medicare until April 2019 to get Social Security numbers off Medicare cards and generate a new beneficiary ID number.

That Social Security number is a gold mine to thieves if you should lose your wallet. (Or if they break into a medical office and steal files.)

Instead, until the new cards get here, do this: Leave the card at home. Make a photocopy of the card and black out the last four digits of your Social Security number. Only carry the paper copy with you if you have a medical appointment.

Now that the word is out about the new Medicare cards coming, scammers are sure to take advantage of that. If you get a call from anyone saying they need personal info from you so you can get your new card, hang up. Or if someone tries to get you to pay for the new card and they need your bank information, it’s a scam.

If you have questions, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.


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