CMS to Remove SSNs from Medicare Cards…Eventually

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The opening sentences of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) webpage devoted to preventing identity theft are ironic:

“Identity theft is a serious crime that happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. . . . Personal information includes things like your name and your Social Security, Medicare, or credit card numbers.”

The irony lies in the fact that CMS prints the Social Security number on a beneficiary’s Medicare enrollment card, even though the federal government forbids private insurers to use the numbers on insurance cards when they provide medical or drug benefits under contract with Medicare.

However, the Medicare payment reform bill signed into law last week requires CMS to start issuing new Medicare cards without Social Security numbers and to replace existing cards. It’s a good idea, but the change won’t happen anytime soon. CMS has four years to start issuing cards without the numbers to new beneficiaries, and eight years to replace the cards for current beneficiaries. (LeadingAge Minnesota Advantage, April 2015)


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