This story was originally posted on April 26, 2017 and was last updated on January 31, 2018.
Do not give your payment information or Medicare number (same as your social security number) to anyone who calls and threatens to cancel your benefits if you don’t provide your information. There is no cost for your new card, and Medicare will never call to verify your Medicare number.
With healthcare fraud being such a prevalent issue in the United States today, it is important to make sure that you take all precautions when using something with personal information on it such as the current Medicare cards.
AARP’s fraud expert, Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me if You Can), has recommended that you only carry your original card with you when you are on the way to a medical appointment. An easy alternative to carrying the card with you is to make a copy of your Medicare card and either black out or cut out all but the last four digits of you social security number on that copy of your card.
Some other basic ways to help prevent and watch for fraud include:
- Never give out your Medicare or Social Security number (SSN) to get a free offer or a free gift.
- Check all of your statements for services or equipment for errors, just like you would a credit card bill.
- If you own a smart phone, protect it with a password, especially if you your personal information on it.
- Do not give out any of your personal information over the phone, Internet, or mail unless you initiated the conversation about it.
- You do not need to verify your SSN over the phone.
- Safeguard the new card the same as you did with your previous card.
If you are contacted by someone who claims to be from Medicare or a financial institute, do not respond. Instead, make sure you contact them back on a number you know is correct and report what just happened.
While such tips should be significant in helping prevent insurance fraud, providers are still requesting that the CMS increase its outreach to physicians to inform them how the billing process will change. Providers will have to update their electronic health record (EHR) systems in order to accept the new MBIs. After the transition period, which will be from April 2018 through December 2019, doctors will have to update their EHR systems in order to accept the new MBIs’ billing system.
There is concern about doctors having to turn patients away if the EHR system isn’t updated or if the patient doesn’t know his or her new MBI number. It was suggested during a Health and Human Services Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education that the CMS create an online portal for providers to search the patient’s ID number if he or she does not have the card or ID number present.
The CMS plans to mail out the new cards with MBIs in April 2018. There will be a transition period from April 2018 to December 31, 2019, during which time providers can use MBIs or HICNs for transactions. The CMS last updated its website in late September 2016, when they indicated that they are updating systems and will reach out to help prepare everyone for their new Medicare cards prior to the cards being mailed out.
To sum things up for you, what do you have to do? It is simple. First, make sure your address is up-to-date. If you need to update this, go to your my Social Security account to update it. Then, patiently await your new Medicare card to arrive during April of 2018, and make sure to bring it with you whenever necessary for billing. If you don’t want to wait for the replacement form in the mail, you can request a replacement Medicare card.
Once you get your new Medicare card, there are 3 important steps that you should take to protect yourself.
- Destroy your old Medicare card.
- Make sure to use your new card when visiting doctors and other health care providers. They will be ready to accept the new card.
- Beware of people contacting you about your new card asking for you BMI, other personal information, or any kind of fee.
If you suspect fraudulent activity or scams, you can report it here.