When I began working in the insurance industry over a decade ago it was common place to see Social Security Numbers printed on health insurance cards, drivers licenses, car insurance documents, and many other unsecured locations. Even the Federal Aviation Administration used Social Security Numbers as their primary ID number on every pilot licenses printed until just a few years ago.
In an effort to help individuals protect their personal information from the growing threat of identity theft, most insurance companies and government agencies began to phase out the use of Social Security Numbers in the early to mid 2000’s in favor of much more secure randomized ID numbers. Yet for years Medicare has remained one of the last few to still use these sensitive nine digits as their main identifier on every Medicare card issued… until now!
On Tuesday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they will finally begin issuing new Medicare ID cards with a randomly generated beneficiary identifier in April of 2018 with all cards being replaced by the congressional deadline of April 2019.
Why will it take so long to issue these new ID cards? Well there are nearly 58 million current Medicare beneficiaries with another 10,000 baby boomers who are turning 65 and New to Medicare each day day. Simply put, producing and delivering that number of ID cards is no small feat. Not to mention the hefty production costs that are estimated to be between $812 million and $845 million by the time the process is complete.
Additional good news is that transition will be very simple for Medicare beneficiaries… simply cut up your old card and and replace it with the new one. The only necessary changes or updates that will need to be completed will fall on the offices of doctors and hospitals who many need to update their processes to work with the new secure ID numbers.
Check back here for more updates as the we get closer to the spring of 2018 when these new ID cards will begin being issued.
Just as you are now learning about this transition that Medicare will make over the course of 2018 you can also bet that there are less then honest people out there in world who are also hearing the same information and planning to take advantage of this transition. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your personal information: