Identity theft is a serious problem, especially for senior citizens, who are frequent victims. Seniors are often seen as being easier targets because they grew up in an era when people were more trusting. They also are likely to have more money saved and may not keep as close an eye on their credit as younger people do. One piece of personal information that is extremely valuable to scammers is a persons Social Security Number (SSN). With a persons SSN, thieves can assume the identity of a senior and commit fraud under their names. Fortunately, organizations are moving away from using SSNs as identification numbers for accounts, and Medicare is one of them. Starting in April of 2018, Medicare identification cards will be revamped to eliminate SSNs. As a family caregiver to a senior parent, understanding the change will help you to navigate the paperwork involved in your parents medical care.
Why Change Medicare Cards Now?
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires SSNs to be taken off of Medicare identification cards no later than April of 2019. The objective of the act is to protect the following:
- Private medical information.
- Financial information.
- Benefit payments.
What is Changing?
Your parents SSN will be removed from their Medicare card and replaced by an 11-character ID code that will be a combination of letters and numbers. The codes will be randomly generated and will not be connected to your parents SSN or other personal information. The new number will be called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). In addition, your parents signature and gender will be removed from the card.
When Will Seniors Receive Their New Cards?
The changes involve generating over 58 million new Medicare cards, so it will take some time for all seniors to receive a new card. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing new cards beginning in April of 2018. The act requires that all new cards be distributed no later than April of 2019.
What Do Seniors Need to Do?
Seniors wont have to do anything to get their new Medicare cards. The changes will happen automatically. There will be no charge for new cards. Unfortunately, the government anticipates that scammers will attempt to use the change to gain money or information from seniors. Family caregivers can help prevent their parents from being victims by watching for these potential scams:
- A Medicare Representative Calling for Personal Information: No one from Medicare will call your parent asking for their SSN or other personal information in order to issue new cards.
- Someone Asking for Payment: There is no charge for the new cards.
- Threats to Cancel Coverage: If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare and says your parents coverage will be cancelled if they do not provide personal information, its a scam. The changes are all being completed automatically and require no information from seniors or their caregivers.
Family caregivers may want to talk to their parents about the upcoming changes to Medicare cards. It is especially important to discuss potential scams and remind them not to give out personal information.
If you or an aging family member are considering professional caregiver services in Bellmore, NY, please call the caring staff at A Gentle Touch Senior Home and Health Care at 631-647-7622 today.