Health Insurance Matters / Harry P. Thal
Hey, Kern Valley. You are getting the scoop before the mainstream media on this one.
Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors. People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. This is why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is readying a fraud prevention initiative that removes Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards. Their aim is to help combat identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars in an effort to reduce fraud. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, requires the government to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) 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. CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019. California will be in the first group to get the new cards; April – June 2018.
“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”
CMS will assign all Medicare beneficiaries a new, unique MBI number which will contain a combination of numbers and uppercase letters. Beneficiaries will be instructed to safely and securely destroy their current Medicare cards and keep the new MBI confidential. Issuance of the new MBI will not change the benefits a Medicare beneficiary receives.
The new system will have 11 digits. They will use numbers 1 thru 9 and capital letters A thru Z apart from the letters S, L, O, I, B and Z.
From what I understand, these new cards will be printed on similar card stock like our current cards. Therefore, as a public service to the community, I will be offering to laminate the new Medicare cards for anyone who brings it to the office. Be sure they are signed.
Harry P. Thal, MA, is a licensed insurance broker in California (0621106) and 24 other states. His offices are in Kernville. He is a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and Past-President of the Kern Association of Health Underwriters. He may be reached at 760-376-2100, e-mail email@example.com or visit him on the web at www.harrythal.com.