For a while now, we’ve been hearing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been considering and working toward an initiative to distribute new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries. On May, 30 2017, the agency released a statement preparing the public for this move and describing why beneficiaries will be receiving new cards.
WHY YOU’RE GETTING NEW CARDS
The main purpose of issuing the new cards is to prevent fraud to more the 57.7 million Americans. Existing cards contain a Health Insurance Claim Number, which includes a beneficiary’s social security number. The number, along with personal information associated it, is vulnerable anytime its lost, stolen or misplaced.
According to the statement released by the CMS, personal identity theft is on the rise for people 65 and older. Incidents among seniors increased by more than 500,000 between 2012 and 2014. Identity theft leaves people feeling vulnerable and often causes emotional, physical and financial stress.
NEW CARDS OFFER A SOLUTION
New cards will include a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), or a unique, randomly assigned mix of 11 numbers and letters, instead of a beneficiary’s HCIN. By removing the HCIN, beneficiaries are less likely to experience personal identity theft when their wallet or purse is stolen or lost as its not associated with any of their other personal information outside of Medicare. However, providers will continue to have easy access to a patient’s Medicare information through this number.
No benefits will change due to the issuance of the new cards.
WHEN ARE THE CARDS ROLLING OUT?
In April 2018, the CMS will begin distributing new Medicare cards. To meet the congressional deadline, all beneficiaries must receive cards by April 2019. The CMS will allow a 21-month transition period where providers will be able to use either the MBI or HCIN. Once beneficiaries receive their new card, they should destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential.
Have more questions, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.