Release of NEW Medicare Cards
Release of New Medicare Cards
In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of social security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. This new initiative is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI). A new, randomly generated Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the social security number. When the initiative gets underway all Medicare beneficiaries will be sent a new Medicare card with a new MBI.
The primary goal of the initiative is to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the social security number from their Medicare cards and replacing it with a new Medicare MBI, which does not contain any other personal information.
The new Medicare cards will have the following characteristics:
-The same number of characters as the current Medicare number, but different from the Social Security number
-Contain uppercase alphabetic and numeric characters
-For providers, the new MBI will occupy the same field as the Medicare number on transactions
-Be unique to each beneficiary
-Be easy to read and limit the possibility of letters being interpreted as numbers
-Not contain any embedded intelligence or special characters
-Not contain inappropriate combinations of numbers or letters that may be offensive
Starting around April 2018, CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) will start mailing new Medicare cards. There are approximately 60 million beneficiaries in Medicare. CMS will mail the cards in phases over a period of time. Remember, as a beneficiary you can still use your current Medicare number during the transition period while you wait to receive your new Medicare card.
The issuance of the new Medicare card is a significant change. The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) wants all Medicare beneficiaries and their caregiver(s) to be aware of possible fraud and scams relating to the new Medicare cards. Remember, CMS and Medicare will never contact you by phone or email to ask for personal information relating to the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Any such contact is a scam. Also, there will be no charge for the issuance of the new Medicare cards. Be on the alert for these scams and report any suspicious contacts to your state or local SMP: Rhode Island 462-0931; Newport County 848-4185. If you have any questions about the SSNRI, you can also visit our local SHIP / SMP Specialist at every Wednesday from 11am-2pm—no appointment necessary.