New Medicare Cards Include Fraud Protection
“The current Medicare cards use Social Security numbers to identify patients. The new cards will bear identifiers that are similar to usernames on accounts.”
For many years, Medicare cards have contained the recipients’ Social Security numbers. Because of this, anyone with access to your Medicare card had your Social Security number. This situation put Medicare patients at heightened risk of financial fraud and identity theft. Although they took longer than it should have, the government is finally making a change. Beginning in April 2018, the government will mail out replacement cards. The new Medicare cards include fraud protection, in that they will no longer display the Social Security numbers of the Medicare recipients.
Protection from Would-Be Identity Thieves
There are many ways con artists have harvested information from Medicare cards to victimize seniors. If a senior lost her card, anyone who found it would know her Social Security number. If she carried her Medicare card around in her wallet, a purse snatcher would acquire her name and Social Security number.
Seniors often show their Medicare card when they go in for medical treatment. Doing so exposes them to risk of identity theft and financial fraud if an unscrupulous employee at the healthcare facility captures the Social Security numbers of patients. Only show your Medicare card the first time you will see a new healthcare provider. After that first visit, they should not require you to show your Medicare card. At all other times, leave your Medicare card at home in a safe place.
The current Medicare cards use Social Security numbers to identify patients. The new cards will bear identifiers that are similar to usernames on accounts. The identifiers will consist of randomly assigned numbers and letters. If a scam artist gets hold of your Medicare card identifier, he cannot use that information as a tool to commit identity theft or financial fraud. Your Medicare card identifier will only be on your Medicare card. The government will not use this unique identifier for any other purpose.
No Changes in Coverage
Although your new Medicare card will look different, there will be no change in your benefits or coverage. The only thing that will change is your level of protection. A side benefit of the new cards is that it will reduce taxpayer dollars lost to Medicare fraud. So, besides protecting your wallet directly, new cards will save the government money, which will keep down the costs of administering the Medicare program.
Guard Your Card
Until the new cards are mailed out in 2018 and 2019, there are things the 58 million American Medicare recipients can do to keep crooks from misusing their Medicare cards. An educational campaign called "Guard Your Card" is making seniors aware of the vulnerability of the current Medicare cards in the hands of the wrong people. The awareness project uses television commercials featuring seniors who explain the dangers of carrying around your Medicare card.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has been pushing for the new Medicare cards for two years. Besides having served on the Senate Special Committee on Aging, she has experience in investigating consumer scams from her days as a Missouri auditor. She urges people to be vigilant in protecting their personal information, and she continues to press for the government to find common sense ways to help individuals in that effort.
The laws are different in every state, so talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
News Press Now. “Medicare cards to feature new protection.” (accessed September 28, 2017) https://www.newspressnow.com/news/local_news/medicare-cards-to-feature-new-fraud-protection/article_b892fe1d-b732-5b4c-9b37-fb1c5c0dac06.html
Herald Dispatch. “New Medicare cards set to be mailed out.” (accessed September 28, 2017) https://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/ohio_news/new-medicare-cards-set-to-be-mailed-out/article_e9e2ba1b-baac-57c0-b94f-79d86ffe4c54.html