NEW BRITAIN-In order to prevent identity theft for seniors, Medicare cards will be replaced with new numbers beginning April 2018.
Currently Medicare cards have Social Security numbers plastered on them, making it easy to become a victim of identity theft if the card gets lost or stolen.
“We’re taking this step to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, Seema Verma, in a statement. “We want to be sure that Medicare beneficiaries and healthcare providers know about these changes well in advance and have the information they need to make a seamless transition.”
According to the most recent data from the Department of Justice, there were 2.6 million cases of identity fraud involving seniors in 2014, up from 2.1 million in 2012.
By next April, each recipient will receive a brand new card with a unique new number.
This comes following the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 signed into law by President Barack Obama requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to replace Medicare cards with ones that do not display SSN.
The deadline set for all beneficiaries to have received a new card is April 2019.
For those that need Medicare services during the transition process they can still go to their providers using their old cards until the new ones arrive.
The new cards will automatically be mailed to beneficiaries, there is no need sign up or verify anything to obtain the new card.
“If anyone calls you to say you need to pay for your new Medicare card, it is a scam,” said Amy Nofziger, a fraud prevention expert from AARP. “If anybody is calling you and asking you to verify your Social Security number in order to issue your new Medicare card, it is a scam.”
Once the new card is received, those with it should destroy their old cards and can start using the new cards immediately.
Three elderly citizens at the New Britain Senior Center all agreed that it is a good idea the government is replacing the cards.
Although Alice Noury has never gotten her identity stolen, she said her daughter has multiple times. She said she does not carry her Medicare card on her anymore, and is always cautious of when she has to give out the number at doctor visits.
Kathryn LaVette frequently travels back and forth to Connecticut and Florida with her Medicare card just in case anything was to happen to her.
Now both can feel more comfortable once their new card arrives without fear of losing personal information.
For more information and what to expect starting next spring, visit cms.gov/newcard.
With Associated Press reports.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or .