In April of this year, the last of the new Medicare ID cards arrived from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). After years of discussion and planning implementation, new cards have been issued and mailed to those eligible for Medicare — age 65 and above or individuals who have been on disability for over 24 months.
This is great news! In the past, Medicare ID’s contained the beneficiary’s Social Security (SS) number and were distributed to various providers such as pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, etc. The result was a high number of personal ID and financial fraud being reported.
Today, the SS number is replaced by an encrypted, personalized number containing letters and numbers. This change will likely save millions of dollars. In the past, it was very easy to steal the SS number from the ID card and open credit cards or bank accounts using your name and credit. Stealing a SS number allowed thieves access to submit false claims to CMS for services not received — like a motorized scooter you don’t need. You may not think this impacts you personally, but the rising cost of Medicare taxes, Part B and Medicare Plan premiums directly affect everyone.
This change on Medicare cards will lower the likelihood of unauthorized access to your credit; however, be aware that any individual with access to your Medicare ID can make false claims. In May 2019, CMS and the FBI uncovered one of the largest healthcare fraud schemes in history — a $1.7 billion loss. Allegedly, several durable medical equipment companies paid bribes and gave kickbacks to medical professionals in exchange for Medicare referrals for back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces. The proceeds of the scheme were allegedly laundered through shell corporations and used to purchase exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate in the US and abroad.
Personal SS numbers or Medicare information should only be provided to trusted medical professionals or a trusted Insurance Advisor for the purpose of an insurance transaction. These professionals have procedures and software in place to protect your information and privacy.
If someone other than your primary care physician promises free health/DNA screening or medical equipment at low or no cost to you in exchange for a copy of your Medicare card to process billing, collect their contact information and report the potential fraud online to the Office of Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services at http://bit.ly/30x06mz.