In The Mail: New Medicare Cards To Combat Fraud
>>> More than 5 million California citizens and half 1 million people in San Diego are getting a card in the mail that is vital to how they access healthcare. It's the Medicare card for those over 65 and replaces the health insurance claim number. Some have received their cards but many seniors do not know why they are getting them or what it means. Why it is ported to understand the change. Thank you for joining us. >> Thank you for inviting me. >> Why are you replacing the security number-- and Social Security numbers? >> That is essentially the gold standard for fraud and identity theft. We are replacing those numbers because we are trying to make it safer and easier for people to access medical care. >> It seems like a monumental undertaking. When did the process start? >> There are 60 million people across the country getting new cards. The law was passed in 2015. We have been working on it since then. We have been mailing cards since May and expect to go through April of last-- April of next year. >> The identifier, in what way is that an improvement? Couldn't that be used by fraudsters as well? >> It could but we like to think of it the same way as a credit card cumber. This is a combination of letters and numbers and each is unique to the individual who has the card. If a card gets lost or stolen, when we replace it with a new card it has a different number so it's not the same level of identification and it's easier to replace. >> The AARP conducted a survey and found that 75% of seniors had not seen much if anything about the new cards. What have you been doing to inform seniors so they are not just taken by surprise? >> We have been using advertising, using the media as much as we can and thank you very much for helping us spread the word. We been holding events. In the yearly publication that every Medicare beneficiary receives there was a notice about the new cards so we have been enlisting partners across the country and using every method that we have to get the word out. >> What happens if you or your mother or great uncle says I threw it out by mistake. What should they do? >> Oh dear. I hope they don't do that and I've been on the lookout for my mother's card. First off what I would like to say is don't worry if you have not gotten the card. Since there are so many people across the state even if your next-door neighbor gets one you may not get yours at the same time. Don't worry about having not got the card because we can certainly help you get that. If you think you threw it away all you have to do is called-- call one 800 Medicare. That is our phone line for every issue you have and if you call them up and say I think I threw away my card they will be able to look up and see whether or not your card was mailed. If you should have gotten it they will help you get a new one. >> What happens if you get a phone call from someone who says they are Medicare and you aren't sure if it's the real thing or another fake call, what should you do? >> Medicare or Social Security we will never call you out of the blue. Anytime you get a call from someone who claims to be from that and wants to get personal information, hang up on that person. We would never do it. We already have your personal information so we don't need to ask you for it. >> Are you experiencing people claiming that perhaps there has been fraught already? >> Sadly Medicare fraud is a big issue and we have gotten reports of scammers who have been trying to get information from people either calling them and asking for Social Security numbers or asking them to verify other personal information or telling them that the card is not free and they have to pay for it. That's absolutely untrue. They are free to everyone and everyone will get them. >> Are you running into problems with beneficiaries or providers? >> Know, the providers are aware that the cards are coming so we tell people as soon as you get your card you should put it in your wallet and destroy your old Medicare card. Take the new one when you go to the doctor because the doctors know they are coming and will be asking to see it. >> Thank you for clarifying for us. >> I appreciate the opportunity to spread the word. >> Deputy regional administrator for California.
If all goes according to plan, by April 2019, nearly 58 million Americans currently on Medicare will have new Medicare cards.
The new cards were mandated by Congress. They do not display the user's Social Security number.
"We're taking this step," noted Seema Verna, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), "to protect our seniors from fraudulent use of Social Security numbers which can lead to identity theft and illegal use of Medicare benefits.”
Many seniors carry their Medicare cards with them and therefore can be subject to identity theft.
The roll-out began in April of this year. Many of the five million-plus Californians on Medicare have already received new cards.
Cate Kortzeborn, Medicare deputy regional administrator for California, joins Midday Edition Thursday about the new cards.