Social Security Numbers to be Removed from Medicare Cards to Protect Patient Privacy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced important changes to Medicare cards. According to CMS, the agency will be transitioning to new Medicare cards that do not include members’ Social Security numbers. The change was prompted by law and as a means to protect people with Medicare from fraud, including fraudulent use of SSNs for identity theft or illegal use of Medicare benefits.

At Levinson Axelrod, P.A., our New Jersey attorneys want to help clients and local residents with Medicare understand the new change and how it will affect them. Below are a few important facts about what’s happening:

  • Medicare cards will be replaced with new ones that do not show the member’s Social Security number (SSN). Instead, new cards will use a new, unique Medicare number (called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier or MBI) to replace current SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN).
  • Under the new system, every person enrolled in Medicare will be assigned a new MBI and mailed a new Medicare card. The CMS has stated that the law requires new cards for all Medicare patients by 2019, and that new cards will be mailed out in phases by geographic location.
  • The new MBI is confidential, and it should be treated like any other form of personally identifiable information. It can also help CMS better protect private health care and member financial information, as well as payments for federal health care services and benefits.
  • New Medicare cards with an MBI won’t affect your Medicare benefits, and can be used as soon as they are received to enroll in a Medicare health or drug plan. Beneficiaries who do enroll in health and / or drug plans will still receive an insurance card from their plans and should use those insurance plan cards when getting health care or prescriptions.

You can find further information about new Medicare cards and resources like a list of frequently asked question on the CMS website.

Levinson Axelrod, P.A. is proud to keep our clients and communities apprised of important changes involving issues such as health care and identity theft. As civil trial lawyers who fight for the injured and the wronged, we work with many Medicare patients, as well as individuals who have been victimized by identity theft and fraud. The new changes to Medicare cards are an important step to protecting your private information, especially in a time when identity theft has become an overwhelming risk for consumers, and we encourage you to be on the lookout for new cards or seek further information from CMS if you have any questions.