By Woodrow Wilcox
From April 2018 to April 2019, Medicare will send new Medicare ID cards to everyone on Medicare. The new cards will NOT have the Social Security Number as part of the identification for Medicare.
The new cards will have unique, randomly assigned numbers and letters called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) which will replace the Social Security based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) which is currently used on Medicare ID cards.
The purpose of the new Medicare ID card system is to combat fraud and identity theft. This will help to protect seniors and others on Medicare from identity thieves who get or share Social Security numbers.
Also, there will be a 21 month transition period in which medical service providers (doctors, hospitals, clinics, labs) will be able to use either the new MBI or the old HICN identification numbers.
The federal government hopes that this change will slow the rate of identity theft among seniors and help to protect seniors from such criminals. According to the news release about this change, over two million senior citizens per year are victims of identity theft.
Issuance of the new MBI card will not change the Medicare benefits that a senior citizen receives.