There is a giant Medicare card changeover that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) program is preparing. It all comes about starting in April 2018 when the new Medicare card begins to be mailed out.
Medicare will begin sending new Medicare cards to more than 55 million Medicare beneficiaries. The new cards are being sent out in response to new legislation that requires Social Security Numbers no longer be used as part of the Medicare ID.
The legislation is called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA. Section 501 of that legislation requires CMS to replace Social Security numbers with a randomly-generated number. This will be the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier, or MBI.
CMS plans to have all Medicare cards that use SSI numbers replaced within 12 months. You should receive your new Medicare card with the MBI on it by April 2019, if all goes as planned.
Here is a short video CMS released that talks about the change and how it prevents fraud:
CMS has also set up a website with more information about the coming changes to your Medicare card. There is already a lot of confusion about Medicare. This change – although necessary because of identity theft protection – can make an already confusing topic even more confusing. We are here to try to help explain the new system and help you navigate it.
Potential Problems With New Medicare Cards
The new Medicare cards should not have a negative effect on enrollees in Medicare “Advantage” plans. MA enrollees no longer need to use their Medicare ID card since they have chosen to go with a Medicare replacement plan. MA enrollees are not required to show their Medicare card to health providers as all of their care is controlled by their plan provider and not Medicare itself.
One issue we can see right away is for people who wish to enroll in a Medigap plan but have not received their new Medicare card yet. There is no way to notify the insurance company of what that randomly-generated ID number is going to be until the card arrives. We have not heard from the insurance companies how they are going to deal with this issue going forward as of the publication of this article.
There is also the issue of cards that never arrive. This could cause a big problem for those who are waiting for healthcare services. It could possibly delay their ability to enroll in a plan to cover the gaps in Medicare until the new card arrives.
Keith Murray is an independent agent and the founder of Integrity SeniorSolutions Inc. Keith has over 22 years of experience working with Seniors on their Medicare insurance needs. He can be reached at 1-888-228-6119 or through the form to the right side of the page.