New Medicare ID cards will be mailed out in April of 2018. This is a pretty big deal – after years of requests from Medicare recipients, government representatives and advocate groups the CMS will no longer include social security numbers (SSNs) on the cards. Old versions of the card, which also included information like the recipient’s gender and signature, must be replaced by April 2019. That’s going to be around 60 million new cards going out over the course of one year.
Medicare will use a random number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to replace the existing Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) that’s used for billing, checking eligibility and claim status. HICNs will be phased out completely by January 1, 2020 but both HICNs and MBIs can be used during the transition period. The CMS says it will monitor providers to ensure service to Medicare recipients isn’t negatively affected, but we’ll have to wait and see. This is something that your senior employees need to be prepared for either way. Click here for more details from the CMS.
Even with the best of intentions to prevent fraud in the long run, this change will inevitably spark new opportunities for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting Medicare members. New card recipients need to be on the lookout. The replacement cards are free and the process is automatic – Medicare will never ask for personal information to get a new number and card or ask to verify a social security number over the phone. Employers should anticipate questions about the new cards. At Frenkel, our help desk and account management teams are aware of this new protocol and we can help you craft the right kind of communications campaign to reach this segment of your workforce.