Starting in 2018, a major change will occur with Medicare cards.
In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019. This new initiative is referred to as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI). The new Medicare card will have a completely different and randomly assigned identifier that will be 11 characters long with a mix of numbers and uppercase letters. This is called the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI). Starting around April 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out the new Medicare cards in phases, since there are approximately 60 million beneficiaries on Medicare. If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI Medicare card.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established a transition period from April 2018 through Dec. 31, 2019. During this transition period, either the current Medicare card or the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier card will be accepted. After Dec. 31, 2019, only the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier card will be accepted.
The primary goal of this initiative is to decrease Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the Social Security number. This new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier card will not contain any other personal information.
Tennessee Senior Medicare Patrol wants beneficiaries to be aware that with the change to the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier card comes possible fraud and scams. They remind consumers that Medicare officials will never contact contact individuals by phone or email asking to confirm a Medicare number so they can send a new card. Also, Tennessee Senior Medicare Patrol also warned of scammers asking for money so they can issue a new card, which is free.
Tennessee SMP is currently educating beneficiaries at outreach events about the Social Security Number Removal Initiative.
If an individual has questions about the SSRNI or would like for Tennessee SMP to come speak to a group about the SSRNI changes, contact Loni Hitchcock with TN SMP at 1-866-836-7677 or [email protected] Hitchcock is the statewide Project Coordinator for Tennessee Senior Medicare Patrol.