Did you know that your social security number is printed on your Medicare Card? If you didn’t know – you’re not alone. There are an estimated 50 million benefit cards that currently have social security numbers printed on them to date. As far back as 2004, private insurance companies and other agencies began transitioning from the use social security numbers to help eliminate the access to this personal data in an effort to help reduce identity theft. Medicare lagged behind in this transition, which is disappointing considering seniors remain a prime target for identity theft.
Why are we considered a prime target for identity theft? Because as seniors we often have more money in savings and our credit tends to be better than our younger counterparts. Also, many seniors tend to rely on mail rather than online tools to manage our accounts, which means we don’t review our accounts outside of our monthly statements. Unfortunately, we also tend to fall for more online scams that enter our inbox.
In 2016 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 3 million complaints of identity theft. Of those cases, 37% of those complaints came from seniors over the age of 60. What is one of the most precious, unique pieces of our identity provided to us by the United States Government? Our Social Security Number – something we need to keep private.
Beginning in April 2018, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS.gov) reports that new cards will be issued with the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to all people with Medicare. This change is a direct result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (signed in April 2015), which helped secure the necessary funding for this transition. The MBI number will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. The MBI won’t change Medicare benefits. People with Medicare may start using their new Medicare cards and MBIs as soon as they get them.
For more information regarding these changes, go to https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/SSNRI/Index.html